Dec 21, 2022
Farmers of the Year winners contribute to communities

The 10 growers honored in the 2022 Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program represented their respective states and took the opportunity provided by Syngenta to donate to organizations that mean a lot to them.

Syngenta contributed $5,500 in donations to the charity, group or nonprofit chosen by each farmer in the 2022 Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program.

Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Robert Saunders grows apples, peaches, nectarines, pears and ornamentals in Piney River, Virginia. As part of his prize, Syngenta will donate $1,000 to the organization of his choice: his local library.

Robert Saunders, who grows apples, peaches, nectarines, pears and ornamentals in Piney River, Virginia, won the overall Farmer of the Year for 2022. Because of this distinction, Saunders received two $500 donations, which he will be donating to the Nelson Memorial Library, which is part of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system in his home of Nelson County, Virginia.

“My wife Pat and I chose to donate to the Nelson Memorial Library, which has been serving individuals of Nelson County for 50 years,” Saunders said in a news release. “Our donation will benefit all of Nelson County, a place my family has called home for nearly 200 years.”

For Saunders, who runs a wholesale nursery, orchard and farm market with his brothers and family, history and family represent what he loves about agriculture and community.

“My dad passed away in March 2022,” Saunders said in the release. “He loved farming with a passion, which he instilled in his children and many others. This award is an amazing honor for not only me, but for the entire Saunders Brothers team. I began the Farmer of the Year journey not knowing much about the program, but have gotten to meet an incredible group of farmers from across the Southeast. Some of those relationships will certainly last a lifetime.”

A listing of all the winners and contributions to their favorite charities can be found here.

“It is so fitting that a group of people who give so much to the community around them and the country as a whole would also take the opportunity to donate to a charitable organization,” Wendell Calhoun, Syngenta’s strategic marketing and operations manager, said in the release. “Every single one of these winning farmers is passionate and dedicated to the agricultural industry, and we are proud to sponsor this award in recognition of their achievements.”

Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Expo, said this award is a chance to recognize excellence in agriculture and hardworking farmers in the southeast.

“It is an honor for us and our sponsors, such as Syngenta, to give these farmers the recognition that they so richly deserve,” Blalock said in the release. “Each year, after going through the judging and awards process, we are reassured that the family farm is alive and well.”


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