2011 Rodney Lightfoote Agriculture Viability and Innovation Award: Presented to Ed Hansen Jr.

The Rodney Lightfoote Agricultural Innovation Award serves as a memorial in honor of Rodney Lightfoote (1920-2002), former Agriculture Program Leader of Cornell Cooperative Extension, one of the original founders of Ontario County Farm Bureau, farmer and friend of Agriculture. The 2011 award was presented to Ed Hansen Jr. of Stanley. Ed Hansen, Jr. is the son of Helen and Ed Hansen, Sr. He graduated from Marcus Whitman and attended Alfred Ag and Tech College. Ed joined his Dad on the farm in 1975 and started a beef operation, which added diversity to the vegetable operation. He married his high school sweetheart, Dawn Eddinger in 1977.

In the November, 1980 issue of the Ontario County Cooperative Extension Farm Facts, Rodney Lightfoote did an article on the Hansen Farm. They had a diverse vegetable farm operation of vegetables for processing that included snap beans, sweet corn, table beets kraut cabbage. They also grew corn for grain, winter wheat and alfalfa. The approximate acreage for this operation was 1600 acres. Shortly after Ed Jr. joined the farm they could see that their future wasn’t in processing all their vegetables, so they decided with the soils and climate in this area that their focus should to be on cabbage. They began expanding their cabbage market towards fresh market cabbage. The farm has gone from a local kraut operation to fresh market cabbage supplier statewide and nationally.

Ed has worked with Cornell University’s cabbage research projects and their continued research on food safety issues. All their crops are grown using IPM standards. In 2009, the Hansen Farm received the American Vegetable Growers Achievement Award. This award is sponsored by Syngenta in cooperation with United Fresh Produce Association to a grower operation that is a genuine role model to the industry. The Ed Hansen Farm has about 2,500 acres with cabbage for fresh market and processing, processing carrots, snap beans, fresh market sweet corn, pumpkins and squash. They also grow soybeans and wheat for grain. About 90% of the farm’s fresh market cabbage is used for bagged salad, packaged coleslaw and food service.

Leadership and community service are important to Ed Jr. He served 12 years on the Marcus Whitman Board of Education and he is in his 12th year on the Town of Seneca Board. He has also served on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County Board of Directors. Ed has served on the Agribusiness Child Development Board since 1992 and has been the President of the Board for 10 years. According to Mary White and Susan Dingee of the Agribusiness Child Development Board, Ed’s leadership and insight have helped guide the organization in providing child care for approximately 1500 children of farm workers annually.