NRDC Announces Finalists of the First-Ever "Growing Green Awards"

Award recognizes individuals with leadership and innovation in the field of sustainable food

San Francisco, CA (April 20, 2009) – Nine finalists for the first-ever Growing Green Awards were announced today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The 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.

“While food is an essential part of our day-to-day lives, most Americans are unaware that climate change and our food system are inextricably linked,” said Michael Pollan, best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and chair of the award selection panel. “The Growing Green Awards finalists are leaders and innovators whose sustainable food production, business and practices contribute to improving the health of people and the planet.”

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.

“By recognizing the achievements of these individuals, we want to inspire other entrepreneurs and opinion leaders to follow their example,” said Jonathan Kaplan, Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Program at NRDC. “The Growing Green Awards are our way of saying thanks for their extraordinary contributions.”

NRDC received nearly 140 nominations from diverse growers, entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country. The nine finalists were selected in the categories of Food Producer, Business Leader, and Thought Leader. The winners will be announced in early May followed by an award ceremony on May 9.

Members of the selection panel include: 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.

Winners will celebrate at NRDC’s 2009 San Francisco benefit, “Food for Thought,” an event that will also honor Michael Pollan for his contributions to the field of sustainable food. The event will be held at the California Academy of Sciences on May 9. Following are the nine finalists:

Food Producer

Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI
Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA

Business Leader

Fedele Bauccio of Bon Appetit Management Co. in Palo Alto, CA
Michael Rozyne of Red Tomato in Canton, MA
Thaleon Tremain of Pachamama Coffee Coop in Davis, CA

Thought Leader

Ann Cooper of Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, CA
James Harvie of Institute for a Sustainable Future in Duluth, MN
Sibella Kraus of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) in Berkeley, CA

Find out what’s fresh in your state, get local food recipes from restaurants around the country, and take NRDC’s new local food widget with you at our Food Miles page.

Read Michael Pollan’s blog in GreenLight: A food revolution in the making from Victory Gardens to White House Lawn

Read Jonathan Kaplan’s blog in Switchboard: NRDC's Growing Green Awards: An olive branch (organic of course) to agriculture