Oregon Organic Coalition Honors Six Individuals and Companies with Awards for Excellence

The winners of the 2009 Oregon Organic Coalition (OOC) Award for Excellence will be announced at a celebratory luncheon in Portland on Tuesday, September 15. Representatives from the organic community will gather at the Ecotrust Building to herald this year's Organically Grown in Oregon Week and honor these modern-day organic pioneers. Keynote speakers include Katy Coba, Director of Oregon Department of Agriculture, and Jack Gray of Winter Green Farm, who is an organic farmer and a co- author of the original organic standards, which shaped the standards recognized today.

This year the OOC Award for Excellence recognizes accomplishments in furthering the quality and growth of organic food in six areas: science, retail, wholesale distribution, livestock farming, organic policy and farm crops:

Scientist (Individual): Alex Stone, Oregon State University

Alex Stone, a former vegetable and flower grower, earned her PhD from Ohio State University before coming to Oregon State University to serve as the State Vegetable Extension Specialist and an associate professor. Her work in establishing the Northwest Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange, position as National Director of the new collaborative eOrganic and studies of organic potatoes have earned her national acclaim.

Retailer: Ashland Food Cooperative

Founded in 1972, the Ashland Food Co-op was the first grocer in Oregon to earn Oregon Tilth's Certified Organic retailer designation for its entire operation. Since then, the co-op it has supported efforts across the state to bolster the organic food industry, lending its expertise, time, and a portion of its proceeds to Provender, the Organicology conference, and Rogue Valley Earth Day, among other efforts. Ashland Food Co-Op is among the nation's top ten food cooperatives in sales.

Wholesaler: Organically Grown Company

Organically Grown Company (OGC) was formed in 1978 to support Oregon's organic farmers. Since then, OGC has opened distribution facilities in Eugene and Portland, Oregon and in Kent, Washington. OGC is the Northwest's largest wholesaler of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, employing more than 160 staff, working with more than 500 vendors and serving more than 250 natural and fine food stores and restaurants throughout western Oregon and Washington. As a sign of its commitment to the community, OGC donates 2.5 percent of its previous year's net profit to organizations focused on organic agriculture and sustainability. Its leadership and community service has earned OGC Oregon Tilth's "Outstanding Visionary of the Year," Ecological Farming Association's "Sustie" award, Fred Meyer's "Vendor of the Year 2005," Provender Alliance's "The Yellow Eco-Brick Road Award," and more.

Farmer Livestock: Jon Bansen, Double J Jerseys, Member of Organic Valley Farmer-Owned Cooperative

Jon Bansen is a third generation organic dairyman in Monmouth, Oregon and member of the Organic Valley farmer-owned cooperative. He extols the virtues of organic farming and grass-based dairying and is considered a "grazing guru" in organic dairy circles. Jon has achieved a high level of biodiversity on his farm; minimal use of off-farm inputs; a high level of care for his employees; a complete production plan with a successful inspection process; and a high level of organic community involvement and support. His dedication to organic dairy has led to wide recognition, including leading Organic Valley's Farmer Ambassador Program for the Western United States, Polk County Soil and Water's 1997 Conservation Farmers of the Year, and Oregon Tilth's Producer of the Year Award in 2006.

Organic Policy: Anita Azarenko, Oregon State University

Dr. Anita Azarenko, head of Oregon State University's Department of Horticulture, has been a strong advocate for policies that encourage organic research and extension. As a result of her guidance, the OSU Horticulture Department has become a leader in the field of organic fruit and vegetable production. Among many other innovative policies, she implemented a strategic plan for Oregon's statewide horticulture program in support of sustainable, ecological and organic horticultural cropping systems. Her own research focuses on the important fields of integrated and organic tree fruit farming systems, specifically orchard floor management systems; tree fruit and nut biology; physiology; and floral biology. Anita and her husband are also stewards of a 160 acre diversified family farm producing organic fruit and hazelnuts, pasture-based beef cattle, hay and timber.

Crop Farm: Winter Green Farm

Winter Green Farm's proprietors, Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade, have farmed 170 acres in the Poodle Creek Valley since the 1970s. The farm produces a huge variety of crops, including organic blueberries, basil, Brussels sprouts, beets, burdock root, bok choi, and grass-fed beef. Although the farm has been organic since its inception in the 1970s, Gray and Wade had it certified organic in 1984 before the word "organic" had legal definition. A decade later, Gray participated in drafting Oregon's Organic Standards Law, which defined the term. Today, Winter Green Farm is an exemplar of biodynamic and sustainable farming systems and has inspired a generation of Oregon's organic farmers.

About the Oregon Organic Coalition

The Oregon Organic Coalition (OOC) advances the development and growth of the organic industry and community in Oregon. The OOC brings together representatives of Oregon-based constituencies, both from the organic trade and from the other stakeholders active in the organic community, to provide direction and endorsements of activities that promote Oregon's organic industry.

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