rodale-organic-honorees-2017-promo Patagonia, Rodale, Iowa State U.

Rodale Institute announces 2017 Organic Pioneer Award recipients

Rodale Institute has announced the recipients to be honored at the upcoming seventh annual Organic Pioneer Awards (OPA) dinner. The OPA is an opportunity to recognize a research scientist, farmer and business that are leading the way to an organic planet.

The recipients of this year’s Organic Pioneer Awards include a research scientist, a farmer and the founder of a national retailer, Rodale Institute has announced. The awards will be presented on Sept. 9.


Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University

Delate is a professor at Iowa State University with a joint position between the departments of horticulture and agronomy, where she is responsible for research, extension and teaching organic agriculture.

She has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s in horticulture from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in agricultural ecology from the University of California-Berkeley.

In 1997, Delate was awarded the first faculty position in organic agriculture at a land-grant university in the United States. She is known for building an “internationally recognized extension and outreach, and applied research program,” an Iowa State University official noted in 2015.

Her research on improving organic farming systems focuses on nutrients and pest-management strategies to improve production while reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint, according to the Iowa State University website.  She began researching no-till organic farming in 2005, The Organic Network reported.

She has farmed organically in Iowa, California, Florida and Hawaii. She spent a sabbatical in 2014 studying organic farming in Italy.


Tom Beddard, Lady Moon Farms

With a dream to live in the country, smell the fresh air and see the stars at night, Tom Beddard founded Lady Moon Farms in 1988 with his wife Christine on 5 acres in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. From the beginning, he was committed to growing only organic food, even when organic wasn’t yet very popular, the Lady Moon website reported.

Lady Moon Farms was a founding member of Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), with Christine acting as the founding secretary and Tom as the founding president of Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO). It was the first tomato grower to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2009, and the first produce grower to support Whole Foods Market’s non-profit, Whole Kids Foundation, which supports schools to improve children's nutrition and wellness.

Lady Moon Farms is known for its ethically and socially just practices, providing year-round employment and fair wages. Lady Moon Farms is now one of the premiere organic vegetable growers in the country with more than 2,400 acres and more than 200 full time employees, providing produce year-round with farms in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.


Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder

Yvon Chouinard was born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1938, and raised in Southern California. There, as a teen he taught himself how to climb, surf, skin dive and blacksmith. By the early 1970s, when he founded Patagonia, Chouinard Equipment pitons, carabiners and ice axes had become the world standard.

Spending 140 days a year in the natural world, Chouinard learned early in his life as an alpinist, surfer and fly fisherman the seriousness of the environmental crisis and brought this knowledge to bear on his work. He instituted Patagonia’s earth tax In the late 1980s, pledging 1 percent of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. In the 1990s, Chouinard encouraged Patagonia to consciously reduce the environmental footprint of its products and activities, beginning with a 100 percent switch from conventional to organic cotton and the introduction of fleece clothing made from recycled polyester.  

Chouinard then sought to work with other partners and reduce environmental harm on a global scale. Chouinard or Patagonia found or co-found the Fair Labor Association, One Percent for the Planet, the Textile Exchange, the Conservation Alliance, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

In addition, Patagonia has been a B Corp member since 2012. Chouinard continues to surf and fly fish. He is the author or co-author of Climbing Ice, Let My People Go Surfing, The Responsible Company, and Simple Fly Fishing.

 The seventh annual Organic Pioneer Awards ceremony begins with a sunset wagon ride through Rodale Institute’s farm. The recipients honored with a champagne toast, a sit-down farm-to-table dinner, then speeches and networking.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. All proceeds from the event support Rodale Institute’s research, education and outreach.


Source: Rodale Institute, with additions from New Hope Network staff

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.