Stefanie Bourcier, CEO, Farm Fuel, farmfuelinc.com
Farm Fuel was started by a group of farmers and innovators who dreamed of growing their own fuel. The company regularly collaborates with university researchers to develop alternatives to chemical fumigants, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides and applies these products to real-world farms and gardens. Their vision is to work towards solving global problems with sustainable solutions on the farm, in the garden, and in the community. Respect for the tradition of farming, the farmland, and consumers is their utmost priority. They seek to change the culture of farming by making it farmer- friendly and by providing exceedingly, safe, natural and affordable products that solve realistic problems.
Jean Byrne, Farmer, High Ground Organics, highgroundorganics.com
Jeanne Byrne and Steve Pedersen grow organic strawberries and mixed vegetables on 40 acres in the Watsonville, CA, area. They have been recognized for their habitat restoration work and their environmental approach to farming. In 2009, they were awarded the Agricultural Water Quality Alliance Stewardship Award, for exceptional agricultural water quality stewardship and community leadership. In 2012 and 2013 they were named as finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award for “extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation on the land of exemplary private landowners.”
Jim Cochran, Farmer, Swanton Berry Farm, swantonberryfarm.com
Swanton Berry Farm was founded in 1983 by Jim Cochran and Mark Matze at a time when no one was successfully growing organic strawberries on a commercial basis. Everyone in the industry said it couldn’t be done, but they did it. Mark moved on but Jim stayed with organic farming and now rents four beautiful ranches strung along Highway One, north of Santa Cruz, California, including a u-pick farm. He hosts a farmstand in Davenport, CA, where you can sample his legendary small batch jams and assortment of berry-based, baked goods. In 1987, the farm became the first CCOF (Cailfornia Certified Organic Farmers) certified organic strawberry farm in California and in 1998 it became the first organic farm to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO. The farmer is also one of the inaugural farms to become Food Justice certified by the Agricultural Justice Project.
Jay Feldman, Founder & Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides, beyondpesticides.org
Beyond Pesticides is a public interest, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The organization collaborates with allies in protecting public health and the environment, leading the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides where people have a voice in decisions that directly affect their lives. Its founders believe that without the existence of an organized, national, local, state networks pesticide policy would succumb to chemical industry pressure and become increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns. Beyond Pesticides’ primary goal is to affect change through local action, assisting individuals and community-based organizations to stimulate discussion on the hazards of toxic pesticides, while providing information of safe and organic alternatives.
Steve Pedersen, Farmer, High Ground Organics, highgroundorganics.com
High Ground Organics is a family farm located in Watsonville, CA, dedicated to producing high quality, fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables for their local community. Steve leased his first 3 acres in 1997 to grow mixed vegetables for a small CSA. He and his wife, Jeanne, have grown the farm to about 40 acres, by purchasing land from the Open Space Alliance with conservation and agricultural easements in 2000 and later buying fallow land in Royal Oaks, in a sunnier spot with well-drained sandy soil. The couple sell certified organic produce through a CSA program, at their Watsonville farm stand, at the Mountain View Farmers’ Market, and to a few select produce stores and restaurants in the area. They also maintain an active and informative blog to keep their customers apprised of the latest developments in organic agriculture and the wider organic community.
Paige M. Tomaselli, Senior Attorney, Center for Food Safety, centerforfoodsafety.org
Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a national non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS educates consumers about what to expect from organic food, products and their systems of production. The organization uses legal actions, groundbreaking scientific policy reports, books and other educational materials, to influence market behavior and engages the grass roots through the True Food Network. Its successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agriculture. Paige’s legal work on organic focuses on ensuring that USDA maintains a high bar of integrity for organic farming and a high animal welfare standard for organic livestock and poultry.
Abby Youngblood, Executive Director, National Organic Coalition, nationalorganiccoalition.org
The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and industry members involved in organic agriculture. NOC seeks to advance organic food and agriculture and ensure a united voice for organic integrity, which means strong, enforceable, and continuously improved standards to maximize the multiple health, environmental, and economic benefits that only organic agriculture affords. The coalition works to assure that policies are fair, equitable, and encourage diversity of participation and access.