Who is making an impact on the sustainable food movement? These nine people, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which recently handed out its first annual "Growing Green" awards.
(The Daily Green recently recognized 10 visionaries helping sustainable food go mainstream, as part of its Heart of Green Awards.)
The NRDC awards recognize "individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to sustainable food in advancing farming practices, climate and water stewardship, farmland preservation and social responsibility from farm to fork."
Sounds good to us. Here are the finalists (winners to be announced early in May) in three categories:
Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI
Will Allen is the founder and CEO of the Growing Power National Training and Community Food Center in Milwaukee, where he operates an innovative urban farm, integrating sustainable aquaculture and organic vegetable production. Through a closed-loop system, water from fish tanks is used to fertilize the plants, which in turn filter the water so that it can be returned to the fish. Growing Power provides fresh fish, produce and jobs to an underserved community. In addition to year-round production, Will provides training and outreach through on-farm classes and lectures.
Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA
Judith Redmond is a co-owner and farmer at Full Belly Farm, a 250-acre, certified organic farm in Northern California. The farm grows more than 80 different crops including vegetables, flowers, herbs, nuts and fruits. Cover crops and compost are the building blocks of the farm's soil fertility, and the farm maintains habitat for beneficial insects, native pollinators and wildlife. Redmond is also the president of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), a California-based non-profit organization that seeks to forge alliances between rural and urban supporters of sustainable, "family-scale" agriculture.
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA
Joel Salatin owns and runs Polyface Farm, a "pasture-based, beyond-organic" operation in Swoope, Va., whose products include grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and sustainable lumber. A central figure in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Salatin has also published a number of books on agriculture and farming, including Family Friendly Farming: A Multi-Generational Home-Based Business Testament and Holy Cows And Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide To Farm Friendly Food. A vocal critic of industrial agriculture, Salatin does not sell or ship his products outside of a four-mile drive from the site of his farm.
Fedele Bauccio of Bon Appetit Management Co. in Palo Alto, CA
Fedele Bauccio is the founder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, an onsite restaurant company providing café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities and specialty venues in 29 states. Fedele has launched many efforts at Bon Appétit in the areas of sustainability, local food sourcing, relationships with small farms, animal welfare, and environmental and human health over the years, often in advance of broader acceptance of these trends. In that vein, Bon Appétit has been a pioneer in recognizing and addressing the connection between food and climate change through its Low Carbon Diet initiative, which is on track to reduce its associated carbon emissions by 25 percent from 2007-2010.
Michael Rozyne of Red Tomato in Canton, MA
Michael Rozyne founded Red Tomato, a non-profit marketing and distribution organization, in 1995. Red Tomato distributes produce from family farms and small farm co-ops to larger food buyers throughout the Northeastern United States. Through innovative marketing practices and creative logistics, sales reached $3.1 million in 2008 and provided a stable market for 30 small farms while strengthening connections between consumers and farmers. A former farmworker and marketer on small farms in Maine and marketing manager for Northeast Cooperatives, Rozyne also co-founded Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-op that imports and distributes fair trade food products from Central and South America, Asia and Africa.
Thaleon Tremain of Pachamama Coffee Coop in Davis, CA
Thaleon Tremain is the general manager of the Pachamama Coffee Co-op, a network of more than 150,000 coffee farmers in Central America, South America and Africa. The co-op is owned and managed by its small-scale coffee growers, though the beans are roasted in the United States and the certified organic, fair trade coffee is sold out of its California office. Proceeds from the sales are reinvested in socially and environmentally responsible programs, which are selected by the co-op's members and based in their home countries.
Ann Cooper of Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, CA
Ann Cooper is the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, where she has instituted a number of purchasing and menu changes to support sustainable and healthy food. She is the author of several books related to food and nutrition, and last year she founded Lunch Lessons LLC (a consulting company that advises other school districts) and the non-profit F3 Food Family Farming Foundation. This June, Cooper will be leaving the Berkeley Unified School District to begin working as a consultant for the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado.
James Harvie of Institute for a Sustainable Future in Duluth, MN
A founding member of Health Care Without Harm, Jamie Harvie has been working hard to use the power and authority of the health care industry to reconfiguring our food system to aid in preventative health while improving the environment. With so much attention on obesity epidemics and nutrition-related problems, Harvie helped catalyze a national campaign to encourage the inclusion of social and environmental aspects of hospital food. To date, 165 hospitals around the country have signed the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, which aims to support methods of food production and distribution that are better for public and environmental health.
Sibella Kraus of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) in Berkeley, CA
Sibella Kraus has worked in food and agriculture for more than 25 years, pioneering the concept of "New Ruralism" as a bridge between smart growth and local food and agriculture. Sibella is the president of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE), a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 that focuses on the development of urban edge agricultural parks. In 2006, Sibella established the Agriculture in Metropolitan Regions program at the University of California-Berkeley to explore the importance of regional agriculture in sustaining metro areas. In 1993, Sibella founded the San Francisco Public Market Collaborative and the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, and its hallmark, the Ferry Plaza Public Market. Her early career included roles as a chef and forager at Chez Panisse, as the developer of an organic wholesale produce division, and as a food and agriculture journalist.
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