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The Organic Trade Association (OTA), based in Greenfield, Mass., said yesterday it will recognize three organic industry leaders April 28 during the All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show in Chicago.
Honored at the OTA's annual dinner will be Drew and Myra Goodman of Earthbound Farm and Ray Fuller of Stormy Mountain Ranch, Inc.
Selected for the 2008 Organic Leadership Award, Drew and Myra Goodman, founders of Earthbound Farm in San Juan Bautista, Calif., have been active in organic agriculture and marketing since 1984. According to OTA, "they have clearly made a huge impact on the organic industry and have been key drivers of its phenomenal growth over the past several decades. You cannot walk into a supermarket today without seeing their organic products."
Visionaries and pioneers, the Goodmans have paved the way for many other farms and businesses to succeed in the organic industry, particularly in mainstream supermarkets, OTA said. Nominators cited the Goodmans for their good business ethics and practices, and the many ways they have given back to the organic business community. Letters of support also cited the positive way the company has handled significant challenges and its work to diligently improve practices and share those with others in the fresh produce field.
"As a fellow farmer, it has been amazing to see the integrity of mission as well as the commitment to quality, innovation, and taste," wrote Sylvia R. Tawse of The Fresh Ideas Group in her letter of support. "While many know the Goodmans' company Earthbound Farm for its organic salad greens, I know Drew and Myra as impeccable organic farmers with a reverence for the soil and the environment."
Selected to receive OTA's 2008 Organic Farming Leadership Award, Ray Fuller, owner and operator of Stormy Mountain Ranch, Inc. in Chelan, Wash., started transitioning his orchards to organic in 1985. By 1988, his orchard was granted the second organic certificate ever by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. He currently has 115 acres of apples, pears, and cherries in organic production.
Fuller has a long list of activities demonstrating his commitment to supporting other growers, sharing his knowledge, and increasing the body of research to improve organic growing practices, OTA said. He has hosted research trials on his land, and opens up his orchards for tours. He also was influential in creating the Washington Apple Growers Marketing Association's "Organic Section" and was a founding member of the Washington Organic Tree Fruit Growers Associations. He has received 15 top grower awards over the last 22 years, and is tapped to speak at many farm conferences. Fuller has marketed his fruit via Stemilt Growers, Inc., since 2003.
"He is an advocate for family-operated orchards and continually develops new strategies for those in sales and marketing to try out," wrote Roger Pepperl of Stemilt, Inc., who nominated Fuller and credited him as being an integral driver of Stemilt's expanding organic program. Added Pepperl, "Not only does his fruit look perfect, but it has the flavors that an organic consumer dreams about. Above all, Ray's farming efforts always coincide with his knowledge that consumer satisfaction is the key to our success at Stemilt, as well as the key to advancing the organic industry as a whole."
OTA's Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony will take place Monday, April 28, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.