Chef Ann Cooper by Craig Lee via The Chronicle
After years of toiling in relative obscurity, leaders in the sustainable agriculture community are being recognized for their efforts. The latest national group offering food system awards is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Vying for the First Annual Growing Green Awards are nine nominees in three categories, some of whom are already national figures and others whose hard work is just being recognized nationally. And the nominees are...In the Food Producer category are the familiar names of Will Allen of Growing Power, Judith Redmond from Full Belly Farm, and Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm. Allen especially is becoming a well recognized face for his groundbreaking work in Milwaukee. So much so that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has conferred "rock star status" on him
The three Business Leaders up for an award are Fedele Bauccio from Bon Appetit Management Co., Michael Rozyne from Red Tomato, and Pachamama Coffee Coop's Thaleon Tremain. Bon Apetit has developed many progressive initiatives including a Low Carbon Diet initiative, Red Tomato has provided a stable market for 30 small farms while strengthening connections between consumers and farmers, and the Pachamama Coop is owned and managed by its small-scale coffee growers.
Perhaps the most interesting award is for the Thought Leader category which includes, Ann Cooper of Berkeley Unified School District, James Harvie of Institute for a Sustainable Future, and Sibella Kraus of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE). Cooper has instituted a number of purchasing and menu changes to support sustainable and healthy food in her school district, Harvie helped catalyze a national campaign to encourage the inclusion of social and environmental aspects of hospital food, and 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.
The finalists’ achievements include ingenious on-farm practices to minimize reliance on chemical inputs, energy and water; ecologically integrated urban aquaculture; leadership in influencing large institutions to purchase more sustainable food; and outreach to help consumers better understand the relationship between food and environment.
Michael Pollan acted as chair of the selection panel that also included Larry Bain, Founder of Nextcourse and Food from the Parks and Co-Founder of Let’s Be Frank; Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center, and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture; and Karen Ross, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. The winners will be honored at an NRDC benefit at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California on May 9.