You are here

Honored at EcoFarm, 2017 Sustie & Justie Awardees

The annual Awards Ceremony is a special feature of the EcoFarm Conference. This year the Advocate of Social Justice Award or "Justie," was awarded to Rosalinda Guillen. The Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award, also known as the “Sustie," was awarded to Rich and Evelyne Rominger, Harriet Behar, and the Dick Peixoto Family.

Rosalinda Guillen

Bellingham, WA

Photo credit: Anne Hamersky Media

Rosalinda Guillen is a Mexican-American born in Texas, raised for a time in Mexico, who now lives in the state of Washington and works internationally to obtain opportunities for farm workers and advancing the cause of farmworker rights. She learned first hand about what improvements farmworkers needed by working as a youth in the fields and orchards in the Northwest. She eventually was employed by Skagit State Bank for sixteen years as a youth and a young woman. But then just four years before qualifying for retirement, she abandoned that comfort and security, in order to organize farm labor for the United Farm Workers of Washington State. Rosallinda’s training as a community organizer began with the Rainbow Coalition, mobilizing support in Washington State for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1987 presidential campaign. It was through that work that she learned about farm workers who were organizing at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s largest winery, and became one of the campaign’s lead organizers. From 1993 to 1995, she ran the grassroots worker organizing campaign, which resulted in the first union contract for farm workers in Washington state. Since then tirelessly she has worked throughout the Pacific Coast as a UFW Executive Board member and National Vice President, and works with a number of organizations close to home, as the Affirmative Action Chair of the Whatcom County Democrats, and as co-founder of and Executive Director for Community to Community Development (C2C), a “a place-based, grassroots organization committed to creating alliances in order to strengthen local and global movements towards social, economic and environmental justice” especially for young Latin women in Bellingham, Washington. Rosalinda is known nationally for her efforts to build a broader base of support for rural communities and sustainable agriculture policies that ensure equity and healthy communities for farm workers. She is often consulted by the national press for her well-respected perspectives on human rights.

Rich and Evelyne Rominger

Winters, CA

Photo credit: Anne Hamersky Media

Richard E. Rominger, 88, is a fourth generation Yolo County farmer. His children now operate the farm, growing alfalfa, barley, beans, corn, oats, onion seed, rice, safflower, sunflowers, tomatoes, wheat, and wine grapes. Some of the crops are grown organically. Rich served six years as Secretary of CDFA, 1977 to 1982. He was the Deputy Secretary (the number two position) at USDA from 1993 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration, where he worked to improve farm policy, including the establishment of the National Organic Standards. He is Special Advisor to the Chancellor at UC Davis, on the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council, and on the Advisory Council of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. He is a member of the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment. He recently completed service on the board of directors of the American Farmland Trust, and the Roots of Change. He also recently completed a term on the Board of Regents of the University of California representing alumni, and as president of the Alumni Associations of the University of California. He also previously served on the California Board of Food and Agriculture, the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET), the Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences, the California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom, the California Rice Research Board, the Yolo County Water Resources Board, the UC Agricultural Issues Center, and was founding President of the Yolo Land Trust. He is a board member of Marrone Bio Innovations, a start-up company developing natural, organic bio-pesticides. Rich is Jerry Brown's senior advisor on agriculture. Rich and Evelyne regularly attend EcoFarm, and he gave one of the all time best presentations in the "Wise Words from Well Seasoned Farmers" session. Mr. Rominger is an icon in California's agricultural community and is recognized as a leader in bipartisan efforts to keep American agriculture healthy and sustainable.

Harriet Behar

Gays Mills, WI

Photo credit: Anne Hamersky Media

Harriet has worked extensively in the organic industry for 27 years. She was an active independent organic inspector from 1989-2014, and conducted final reviews for multiple certifiers in the 2000s. She currently works as a Senior Organic Specialist at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), is a Technical Service Provider for the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and a current member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). For over 20 years, Ms. Behar has been active in education, teaching courses in crop, handling, and livestock scopes for the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), as well as teaching organic production and conservation at on-farm venues, conferences and full day seminars to a wide variety of farmers, ranchers, food processors and agricultural professionals.

Ms. Behar attended the University of Wisconsin, leaving early to farm full-time. With her husband, Ms. Behar owns and operates Sweet Springs Farm in Wisconsin, growing certified organic vegetables, and culinary and medicinal herbs since 1989. The farm also raises chickens for eggs and meat, and manages a number of honeybee hives. The farm provides Ms. Behar the opportunity to work in all aspects of farm management, from early planning stages through end market sales.

Dick Peixoto

Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, CA

Photo credit: Anne Hamersky Media

Third-generation farmer Dick Peixoto grew up farming apples with his father and began vegetable farming with brother Jim, growing green beans in high school on a 55-acre farm in Watsonville. After growing thousands of acres of conventional lettuce and other crops, that farm became the first land Dick converted to organic in 1996. Today, Dick and his 250 employees at Lakeside Organic Gardens grow year round, producing over 45 crops on 50 different farms on 1,200 acres in the Pajaro Valley, with 600 acres of winter production in the Imperial Valley, the largest family-owned and operated solely organic vegetable grower/shipper in the USA. Dick is an activist on food safety, water supply, open space preservation, and other issues affecting agriculture. He is a co-owner with his daughter of the Freedom-area restaurant California Grill which uses primarily locally sourced food, including Lakeside Organic Gardens produce. Recently Dick and the Peixoto family contributed $2 million dollars to the development of an organic and sustainable agriculture learning center in the Pajaro Valley. This center will be a resource for people interested in starting an organic farm, learning about organic farming, or those interested in seeing how their food is grown organically.