Elmer and Gladys (McKay) Laird
Chemical farming is like painting by numbers. Organic farming is striving to be a real artist and accept challenges. - Elmer Laird In 1973, they established The Back To The Farm Research Foundation (BFRF) under the Societies Act and with the sponsorship of the National Farmers Union. Laird became President. The BFRF became well known for its letters and briefs to political leaders and the media, on farm chemicals and alternatives, as well as other environmental issues.
To counter the use of toxic pesticides used to control grasshoppers, Elmer and the BFRF proposed that grasshoppers be harvested and sold as food in countries where they are considered a delicacy. The media was attracted to the grasshopper harvester design competition and Laird became a repeat media guest, including on Peter Gzowski's radio and television programs.
Gladys Laird never worked in the field but supported the BFRF effort doing research, particularly on organic farming. Until she passed away in 1999, she cooked numerous lunches and dinners and baked cookies for the large number of visitors who came to talk about organic farming at the Laid farm.
In 2001, Elmer retired as a farmer and donated the use of his land (640 acres) to the BFRF. It was established as an organic research and demonstration farm, the first of its kind in Canada. The BFRF Board of Directors also made him Farm Manager.
In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Saskatchewan Eco-Network and an Organic Visionary Award at the Organic Connections Conference. That year the Saskatchewan government also presented him with a Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan. The medal recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the province.
Elmer Laird was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2008.
Laird also continues to produce letters and reports designed to stimulate action on a variety of farming and environmental issues.
Elmer Laird and the Back to the Farm Research Foundation operate the first certified organic research farm in Canada near Davidson, SK.
Saskatchewan Environmental Champions
A Compilation of Written Works by Elmer Laird (PDF)