Inducted: October 27, 1993
John Cumming always farmed with an eye to the future, pioneering in conservation and land stewardship to protect his share of Canada's diminishing agricultural land resources for the generations to come.
His concern for the land has been shown for more than a half century, in the planting of windbreaks and in erosion control waterways. He helped pioneer no-till and minimum-till crops as part of the same commitment to land protection.
In 1986, Mr. Cumming shared the Kent County "Conservationist Farm of the Year" Award with his son, Peter; and he was recognized a year later for his work in preserving the Sinclair Bush, one of the last remnants of Carolinian Forest in Southwestern Ontario.
Mr. Cumming was appointed in 1987 as a member to the Kent County Land Stewardship I Committee, and later as a member and Chairperson of the follow-up Land Stewardship II Committee. He has been a Co-Chairperson of the Kent Committee for the National Soil Conservation Program and a member of the Rondeau Agricultural Conservation Corporation.
Mr. Cumming was born in Harwich Township, the son of Herbert and Grace Cumming. He went to S.S. No. 11, Harwich Township (Guilds) for his elementary education, then on to Blenheim District High School. When World War II came, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His early service on the Canadian west coast was followed by service as a navigator with the R.C.A.F. Bomber Command in England.
The post-war years brought the opportunity for a different kind of service, this time to agriculture and the community. He was a Director of the Ontario Seed Corn Growers' Marketing Board for 18 years, and worked with the Board to make crop insurance available to growers in 1973.
Mr. Cumming was a commodity Director (seed corn) on the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for 10 years, and in 1971, a Founding Member of the Ontario Commodity Council, an organization representing farm marketing boards and associations.
Mr. Cumming was a member of the Kent County Wheat Producers' Committee, a member of the Kent Soil and Crop Improvement Association, a member of the Kent Federation of Agriculture and a member of the Canadian Nut Growers' Association.
In his community, he served as a member and Chairman of the Board of S.S. No. 11, Harwich Township; and as a member and Past President of the Blenheim Kinsmen and Rotary Clubs. At Guilds United Church, he has served in a wide variety of posts.
Mr. Cumming is a 45-year member of Blenheim Branch 185, Royal Canadian Legion, and Vice-Chairman of the Legion Villa Board, which administers a 35-unit Senior Citizens housing development opened in 1989.
He and his wife, the former Ruth MacGregor, have a son, Peter M., a farmer/conservationist, and a daughter, Pamela J. LeGros, of Raleigh Township.
A long-term friend said that Mr. Cumming has been a positive influence in every cause he has served. "It isn't just what he does, but how he does it. He is always pleasant and cheerful, unconsciously encouraging people to work in harmony."