12/01/2012 04:05 EST | Updated 01/31/2013 05:12 EST

Awards honour Canada's young farmers

Canada's top young farmers were honoured Friday night at a special awards gala on P.E.I. with the goal of encouraging future farmers to kickstart the declining agriculture sector across the country.

In an elegant hotel ballroom, Canada's up and coming farmers celebrated a year's hard work and shared secrets to their success.

Atlantic winners and organic farmers Mark and Sally Bernard, from Freetown, P.E.I. were on hand to celebrate the top under-39 farmers in Atlantic Canada.

"Things like this are probably some of the best learning experiences that you can have," Sally said. "Even though maybe the other farms aren't necessarily organic, I think every farmer can learn something from every other farmer."

Topics of discussion ranged from food safety to environmental protection, and even how to successfully manage the books.

Derek Janzen, president of Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers, said the awards are a way of getting more young people involved in the farming sector.

"Agriculture, as you know, it's a declining population," said Janzen. "We have way less farmers now than we did a number of years ago and we want to highlight the ones that are involved and encourage ones that want to become farmers and say 'Look, you can do it too.'"

Though many farms were hit hard by this year's dry weather, it hasn't withered the resolve of farmers like Manitoba winner Dustin Williams.

"It's an incredible industry to be a part of," he said. "There's no more satisfying job that I can think of than producing food for the world."

This year's group said it takes a lot of learning to succeed in an evolving industry.

"It's difficult at times," said Mark Bernard, "but we rely on our college education from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and networking and it all kind of comes together and works pretty good."