Saturday, July 31, 2010
Organic farming leader Elmer Laird dies at 86
Laird died Saturday at a nursing home in the province. The cause of death was not known.
The Davidson-area farmer was a leader in the organic movement, which prefers natural forms of cultivation and shuns the use of man-made pesticides.
His own farm was often the test ground for different crops and methods of production. He was also a major proponent of local food and the family farm.
In 2008, Laird was the first organic producer inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.
In the late 1960s, Laird stopped using chemicals on his farm, initially to save money. The practice soon turned into a passion for organic agriculture.
Saskatoon writer and social activist Paul Hanley, who met Laird in the 1970s, remembered that, at first, Laird was labelled old-fashioned.
"I think people will look back to Elmer as one of the people who really brought an organic farming movement into existence and raised a lot of alarms around the way we were polluting our environment using petrochemicals," Hanley told CBC News on Thursday.
Laird was a founder of the Back to the Farm Foundation, a group which researches organic farming methods.
He also helped set up an organic grain co-operative in Girvin, Sask.
Laird was born in 1924 in the Swift Current area. He served in the air force in the Second World War.
In 1947 he bought land near Davidson using grant money from the Veterans Land Act.
He was also active with the Saskatchewan Farmers Union and, in 1965, helped establish the National Farmers Union.
Laird was predeceased by his wife, Gladys in 1999.
When he retired from farming in 2001, Laird donated the use of his land to the Back to the Farm Research Foundation to serve as a research and demonstration facility.