Farm Bureau to honor two women tonight at awards gala

COURTESY PHOTO | Long Island Farm Bureau’s 2012 honorees, Randi Dresner of Island Harvest (left) and Debbie Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms.

For the first time in its 95-year history, the Long Island Farm Bureau will honor two women at its annual awards gala celebrating the achievements of prominent members of the local agricultural community.

This year, the bureau will recognize the efforts of Riverhead farmer Debbie Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms and Randi Dresner, head of the Island Harvest anti-hunger group, during tonight’s gathering at the Hyatt East End in Riverhead.

“Their service to agriculture has been tremendous,” said Natasha Beccaria, farm bureau promotions coordinator.

Ms. Schmitt will receive the Amherst Davis Memorial Farmer Citizen Award. She’s one of only 16 women in the country who participated in an April leadership seminar funded by American Agri-Women, a national agriculture organization.

Once the farm bureau’s education coordinator, Ms. Schmitt has worked to get farmers into North Fork classrooms to teach children more about the origins of the food they eat.

In addition to helping found her family’s Sound Avenue farmstead, which produces a full line of vegetables, Ms. Schmitt also sells fresh-cut flowers.

Randi Dresner, whose organization supports Long Island food banks with fresh produce from local farms, will receive the farm bureau’s Citizen of the Year Award for her charitable work with Island Harvest.

“They’re like a food bank for Long Island,” Ms. Beccaria said. “They are our largest hunger relief organization. They work closely with the farmers, who receive tax credits for donated produce. That produce is then distributed to places across Long Island that provide food for the needy.”

Ms. Dresner has visited Washington, D.C., with LIFB executive director Joe Gergela to share information on the program’s efforts.

Tonight’s event starts with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. followed by an awards reception at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $90 and can be purchased online at or by calling 727-3777.

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