At our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, we present the Honorary Farmer of the Year award. This recognition is given to a Niman Ranch customer – whether it be a meat distributor, grocer or restaurant – that shows outstanding commitment to the Niman Ranch farming community. They go above and beyond being a customer to embody the true meaning of partnership in their actions towards promoting sustainable, humane agriculture.
This year, we honored a long-time friend of ours, Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, Colorado. Owners Pete, Barbara and Paul Marczyk have increased their commitment to our Next Generation Scholarship Fund through private dinners at their home, having customers “round up” at the register, selling special items at their deli, and our favorite event of the year: Marczyk’s Burger Night. The Fund is set up to give our farmers’ children a better chance of returning to the land by curbing school loan debt. This ultimately preserves traditional farming practices and promotes the advancement of the next generation of farmers.
Marczyk Fine Foods’ first donation in 2012 totaled $3,000. With the help of their dedicated team and the Denver community, their donation has now grown to a whopping $27,000 in just their fourth year! This directly contributed to us giving $85,000 in scholarships to 26 students this year. That’s almost double what we presented in scholarships last year.
“It was evident, even that first year, what kind of impact we had on young farmers ready to take their family business to the next level,” states Co-owner Pete Marczyk. “Since then we have doubled our dollar amounts year over year…. But it’s not just about the gift of education; it’s about connecting with more and more farmers every year to tell them, ‘What you do is important,’ ‘What you do cannot be replaced.’”
Thank you, Marczyk Fine Foods, for all that you’ve done to support the next generation of family farmers!