The Ecological Farming Association will present the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Awards (Susties), the Advocates for Social Justice in Sustainable Agriculture Awards (Justies), and the Golden Pliers Award at the EcoFarm Awards Dinner Banquet on Friday, January 25 as part of the 39th EcoFarm Conference.
The Sustie Award honors those who have been actively and critically involved in ecologically-sustainable agriculture and have demonstrated their long term, significant contributions to the well-being of agriculture and the planet.
The Justie Award honors those who has been active advocates for social justice as a critical aspect of ecologically-sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Doron Comerchero and Food What?!
Doron Comerchero is the Founder and Director of FoodWhat?!, a program where youth engage in relationships with land, food, and each other in order to cultivate their empowerment, liberation, and well being. Through the hand-on process of growing food, FoodWhat engages Santa Cruz County youth with the least access to opportunities and resources to step into their power and break cycles of poverty. FoodWhat’s impact is a direct result of the way youths’ wisdom, experience and personal gifts are trusted. As such, FoodWhat is a safe space where youth are centered as agents of their own future.
Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D
Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D., is a Native ecologist, writer, media-maker and indigenous scholar-activist. She is associate professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and executive director of The Cultural Conservancy, an indigenous rights organization that she has directed since 1993. For over two decades Melissa has worked in the Native American food movement. Her work is dedicated to indigenous rights and revitalization, biocultural heritage and environmental justice, intercultural solidarity, and the renewal of community health and cultural arts.
Russ Lester & The Lester Family
The Lester family has been in the business of family farming in California since 1883. It was in 1979 that Russ Lester decided to follow his father’s footsteps and start Dixon Ridge Farms with his wife Kathy. Dixon Ridge Farms is a leading organic walnut grower, buyer, and processor based in Winters, California, that works to grow, process, and market certified organic walnuts. In 1989 Russ and his wife made the shift from conventional farming to organic production after Russ’s father passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer linked to exposure to herbicides. At the time, not many growers were farming organically, and the transition required much collaboration with researchers and organizations to develop the whole-systems approach that Dixon Ridge Farms continues to improve upon today.
Dr. Pamela Marrone
Dr. Pamela Marrone, CEO and founder of Marrone Bio Innovations, started the company in 2006 to discover and develop effective and environmentally-responsible, biologically-based products for pest management and plant health. Her research screening for microbes and their products has yielded a library of tens of thousands of potentially useful microbes, and has given the world several of it’s most widely used Bio-Pesticides. In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Pam is active with industry and other ag and education-related organizations including Cornell University, the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists Foundation, and UC Davis College of Ag and Environmental Sciences.
Will Scott Jr.
Will Scott Jr. started his life in agriculture working the fields from an early age. His grandfather was a sharecropper and his father picked grapes and cotton in the Central Valley. After 30 years of work as an engineer for Pacific Bell Telephone Company, Mr. Scott retired a decade ago and returned to the family farm. With his farm, Scott’s goal is to reintroduce Southern specialty crops into black communities to help fight obesity and diabetes epidemics. Scott has introduced hundreds of kids to agriculture and helped found the Fresno-based African-American Farmers of California with the aim of sharing information about farming and offering food distribution assistance wherever it is needed.