Rienout von Martels named 2019 Agriculturist for Chatham-Kent
The Ridgetown Rotary Club is extremely proud of member Reinout von Martels for being named the 2019 Agriculturist of the Year, for Chatham-Kent, Ontario. Below is a brief summary of Reinout’s career.
   Reinout began his farming career during a difficult period, the early 1980`s, when high interest rates and poor crops took a toll on everyone including his young family. But they persevered by starting a small seed cleaning business to generate additional income and diversify. Interestingly, Chatham-Kent produced 40% of Canada`s soybean crop during those years. Though extremely difficult, that period provided for a lot of learning, encouraged innovation and strengthened the community of Chatham-Kent farmers.
   At this time also they started conservation tillage. New equipment designs, more research and new herbicides allowed them to become better and more profitable at this. It also allowed farmers to expand their acreages. Reinout was a committee member of the Kent Federation of Agriculture during the 80’s, participating in their meetings and helping to focus on the political challenges affecting many of them at that time.
 The following decade the 1990`s, he gave his time as a committee member to the Kent County Soybean Growers Assoc.  At the same time as his participation with the Soybean Growers Asoc., he was on the board of the Ontario Seed Growers. Reinout was a member of this board since 1993 and served as president in 2000.
  Through being involved with the seed business, he initiated the development of a computer software called “TagIt”. In 1982 he started a small custom seed cleaning business for local farmers. They brought in their soybeans, wheat, oats and barley to be cleaned. This business grew steadily and through it allowed him to become a pedigreed seed producer and ultimately became a “select” grower, one who can multiply seed from a plant breeder.
  This business was expanded in 1996 by forming a new seed company, Southwest Seeds, alongside three other shareholders. Soybeans were processed, packaged and loaded in containers and sent by truck and rail to be shipped to Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
  Throughout the years since1986, Reinout has been a very active member of the Rotary Club of Ridgetown, holding office many times, including his current position as treasurer (for last 4 years). Rotary is an international service club that helps the community as well as on a national and international level. Our Club helps youth in leadership training, as well as providing support to Rotary International which helps the under privileged and is known internationally for its work towards eradication of polio. Over the years with Rotary, Reinout and his wife hosted seven international exchange students who lived and studied at Ridgetown High School for one academic year.
   Finally, to quote Reinout, “A farmer’s chance for success can be influenced by staying involved in their community and by reaching out to fellow farmers for input and discussion. I have always strived to keep my neighbours close and consider them friends in this ever challenging career of farming.” The Ridgetown Rotary Club would consider that Reinout has embodied the same philosophy during his many years with our club.