Dean Tiessen Memorial Fund to honor agricultural entrepreneur

By Rural Ontario Institute | January 22, 2014

A memorial fund has been established to honor the vision and memory of a southwestern Ontario agricultural entrepreneur who died tragically in Brazil late last year.

Dean Tiessen of New Energy Farms was a catalyst in helping establish the province’s fledgling biomass sector, as well as a leader in the greenhouse vegetable industry and a member of Class 10 of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program from 2003 to 2005.

In honor of Dean, his AALP classmates have established the Dean Tiessen Memorial Fund to help support the third seminar of each AALP class. This seminar is traditionally hosted in Dean’s home region of southwestern Ontario and is focused on the theme of “change,” which his classmates feel very appropriately describes Dean’s approach to his agricultural businesses.

“No one in our class symbolized change better than Dean,” says Henry Koskamp, a member of the Class 10 committee that is establishing the fund. “His drive to find a solution to high energy costs in the greenhouse industry helped start our biomass industry and made him a pioneer in energy crops, not just here in Ontario but also internationally.”

The fund will be in place for ten years to support the next five AALP classes and will be administered through the Rural Ontario Institute, the organization that delivers AALP. The goal is to offer each class a key note speaker or presenter, include an evening banquet, or arrange for a special visit in the region in keeping with the “change” theme – all activities that would otherwise be outside of the scope of the seminar budget.

“As Dean’s classmates, we all have fond memories of his open, giving spirit and of the many thought-provoking discussions he helped lead in our class, as well as the zest with which he approached life and embraced new ideas,” said Andy Van Niekerk, also a member of the fund’s organizing committee. “We encourage anyone who knew Dean to contribute to this fund and help keep his memory and his passion for change and innovation in agriculture alive.”  

Donations will be accepted at the AALP Dream Auction in Guelph on Feb. 8, but can also be made online through the Rural Ontario Institute here. Please select the Dean Tiessen Memorial Fund from the dropdown menu. Cheques can be made payable to ROI and sent to 5653 Highway #6 N. RR#5, Guelph, ON N1H 6J2 with a note that the funds are to be designated to the Dean Tiessen Memorial Fund. Tax receipts are available.