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February E-News: Chock Full of 2016 EcoFarm Conference Goodies and Exciting Announcements

Honored with Awards at the 36th annual EcoFarm Conference

The annual Awards Ceremony is a yearly highlight of the annual EcoFarm Conference. This year, the Stewards of Sustainable Agriculture Award, also known as the “Sustie" was awarded to Frank and Karen Morton, Susan Clark, and Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward. The Advocate of Social Justice Award or the "Justie" was awarded to The Homeless Garden Project and accepted by Executive Director Darrie Ganzhorn. Tessa Ramsay was honored with the "Golden Pliers" award, honoring those that are always ready to roll up their sleeves to get the job done. We are grateful to these individuals for their tremendous contributions to food and farming.

Sustie Awards

Frank and Karen Morton

Frank and Karen Morton were salad growers for fine chefs for nearly two decades, beginning in 1983. During this period Frank used their commercial salad production as a wide ranging breeding program to create new varieties suited to organic conditions, and the tastes of chefs.The Mortons started Wild Garden Seed in 1994 to release new varieties bred within their organic system, on the premise that these genetics will perform better for organic farmers. After 2 decades in the seed business, the Morton's supply most of the seed companies that serve organic growers.  They have recently pledged 133 of their seed lines to the Open Source Seed Initiative to ensure that their seed will remain free for breeders and farmers to grow and use into the future.


Susan Clark

Susan Clark is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, has an M.A. in Urban Studies from Occidental College, was a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Venezuela.  She directed community programs for Lone Mountain College, was the Executive Director of Columbia Foundation for 35 years, and the Mortimer Fleishhacker Foundation for five years, and served on the board of directors of the Council on Foundations and Northern California Grantmakers. She is a member of the board of directors of the Arkay Foundation and serves on the advisory board for Upstream, which promotes a closed-loop materials economy. 

She has been honored by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council (Forces of Nature Award) for her early advocacy, and long-term philanthropic leadership, to promote sustainable food and farming systems as solutions to environmental and social challenges of food production. Susan is the Director of Programs for Gaia Fund, a family foundation with grantmaking focused on Sustainable Agriculture, Effective Democracy, and Jewish Life and Culture in San Francisco. Thanks to her efforts, people from all over the world, including Cuba this year, have been able to attend the EcoFarm Conference.


Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward

Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward, husband and wife, and co-owners of Greensward/New Natives established their greenhouse growing microgreens and sprouts shortly after they arrived in Santa Cruz, Ca. in 1980.  They received their organic certification from CCOF in 1982. Their farming career spans 35 years. Their greens are distributed in the Bay Area to the wholesale market, along with direct delivery to retail stores and 8 farmers markets year round. They employ 12 full time and 5 part-time employees.

In addition to managing their farm full time, Kimes and Ward are both outspoken activists who dedicated more than thirty years to the sustainable agriculture movement. Including helping to establish CCOF, Santa Cruz Community Farmers Market, and standing up for organically grown seed.


Justie Award

The Homeless Garden Project

The Homeless Garden Project, (HGP) celebrating 25 years last year, provides transitional employment, job training and support services to people who are homeless. In complement, the project operates a thriving and vibrant community education and volunteer program that served nearly 2500 people last year. HGP's programs take place in their 3.5 acre organic farm and related enterprises.Workforce development research shows that real work experience works better than stand alone training in preparing people to transition into jobs. This is what the Homeless Garden Project does. Trainees are paid for their work, it is real work, the work of operating our farm, CSA, Farm Stand and Value-added Enterprise. They can stay in the program for up to one year and the overarching goal--a bold and daring goal--is that trainees leave the program with jobs and housing.  Last year, 92% of the graduating class obtained a job and housing.

Another way HGP's produce is used is through their program known as Feed Two Birds. In partnership with their donor community, trainees, staff and volunteers grew, harvested and distributed organic produce to an estimated 1400 low income people via 8 nonprofit partners such as Santa Cruz AIDS Project and the River Street Shelter each week during our 23 week harvest season.

The project's programs exist at the intersection of urban agriculture and food-justice movements, transitional jobs and job training, homeless services and therapeutic horticulture. There is a synergy among these purposes and ideals in daily practice at the farm.

featured: Darrie Ganzhorn, Homeless Garden Project's executive director


Golden Pliers Award

Tessa Ramsay

Tessa Ramsay grew up in Fairfax, California, steeped in a community where sustainability was the norm, particularly when it came to organic food (Good Earth Natural Foods!). In her first sociology class at Cabrillo College with Jackie Logg, Tessa volunteered with Homeless Garden Project under Darrie Ganzhorn and was motivated to work through the summer of 2013. Her time at the garden led her to becoming an intern at EcoFarm. She flies daily between college, horse training, and volunteering. Tessa is constantly inspired by the people of the regenerative agriculture movement and considers her "work" to be a hobby that is slowly transforming into a career. Tessa has helped organize the EcoFarm Conference, often behind the scenes, whether helping in the kitchen, organizing with farmers, or managing data, she is always ready to lend a hand, with cheery disposition.

photo credit: Elizabeth Birnbaum,






Photo Highlights from the 2016 EcoFarm Conference

Click the album for a mashup of photos from this year's conference by Broken Banjo Photography. And in the spirit of love...this being February, you can really feel joy emanating out of this year's photo booth!

featured: Demonstration at the EcoFarm's annual Seed Swap & Scion Exchange.


Videos of Conference Plenaries now available on YouTube!

Click to visit EcoFarm's YouTube channel, now featuring the 2016 EcoFarm Plenary presentations and keynote speakers.

featured: This year's Cuban farmer delegates gifting a hand-carved heart to EcoFarm. 


Workshop Audio Recordings coming soon

Stay tuned for the recordings of the 2016 Conference workshops, available for purchase as MP3 downloads soon! Sign up for EcoFarm's monthly E-News for timely updates


That's all for now folks!

 ~EcoFarm Staff