Nominate Someone for ‘Extraordinary Contributions in Sustainable Food’ Award

NRDC Announces Fourth Annual Growing Green Awards to Honor Extraordinary Contributions in Sustainable Food

Nominations are due by December 9, 2011

  • $10,000 cash prize in the Food Producer category
  • $2,500 cash prize in the Food Justice Leader category
  • $2,500 cash prize in the Young Food Leader category

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announces its fourth annual Growing Green Awards to recognize individuals who have demonstrated original leadership in the field of sustainable food.  Through this national award, NRDC will recognize extraordinary contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork.

A Growing Green Award will be given to an outstanding individual in each of four categories, including Food Producer, Business Leader, Food Justice Leader, and Young Food Leader.  Cash prizes of $10,000, $2,500 and $2,500 will be awarded in the Food Producer, Food Justice Leader and Young Food Leader categories, respectively.  All winners will be widely celebrated through outreach to media and NRDC’s networks.   Winners will also be celebrated in May of 2012 at an event to benefit NRDC in San Francisco.  Award selections will be made by an independent panel of sustainable food experts.  Information about award eligibility, selection criteria and process, and the award selection panel are provided below.


Recipients may represent a variety of fields including food production, food service, retail or restaurants, academia, journalists, policy advocacy, and government.  The panel will consider candidates from across the country (candidates operating outside of the United States will not be considered). Individuals in the following four categories are eligible:

Food Producer: Farmers or other food producers, including aquaculture, who employ innovative techniques to sustain agriculture, the natural environment, workers and community;

Business Leader: Entrepreneurs who effectively use the marketplace to promote sustainable food systems, develop infrastructure that enables producers to be more sustainable, or advance sustainable innovations anywhere along the supply chain from farm to fork;

Food Justice Leader: Advocates and entrepreneurs who are creating equitable food systems, including provision of safe and fair working conditions for food system workers and improving access to nutritious food to families and communities in need.

Young Food Leader: Sustainable food advocates, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and innovators who are 30 years old or younger.


Growing Green Awards Criteria

In selecting from nominees, the awards selection panel will consider the following criteria:

  • Innovation in promoting ecologically-integrated food systems.  This may include minimizing inputs of energy, water and chemicals; reducing pollution and global warming gas emissions; use of on-farm polyculture; increasing natural resilience; and stewardship of biodiversity, pollinators, open space and land resources.
  • Potential to achieve wide scale adoption, implementation or behavioral change.
  • Advancement of health, safety and economic viability for farmers, food system workers and communities.

Selection Panel and Process

The awards will be selected by an independent panel with staffing assistance from NRDC.

NRDC is grateful to the following sustainable food leaders who have volunteered to join the Growing Green Awards selection panel:

Myra Goodman, Co-Founder of Earthbound Farm and author of Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook and The Earthbound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet.


Nikki Henderson, Executive Director of People’s Grocery and Co-Founder of Live Real, a national collaborative of food movement organizations.

Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism, University of California Berkeley.

Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA and Co-Founder of Yale Sustainable Food Project, Yale University.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted until close of business on December 9, 2011. The application must be submitted electronically using the website application process at  Application materials may include up to 10 pages of text (12 point font please), photographs, articles or other supporting materials.  Please combine multiple files into a single attachment.


In the last three Growing Green Award competitions we received many excellent nominations that came close to winning.  We will consider previously submitted nominations again this year upon request.


Please contact Amrita Batra with questions at or by phone at (415) 875-6107.

Meet Last Year’s Winners

NRDC’s 2011 Growing Green Awards winners, listed below, were selected from a pool of impressive candidates for their outstanding achievements in sustainable food and farming.  You can hear them tell their stories here.

Food Producer: Jim Cochran, Swanton Berry Farm
Business Leader: Pam Marrone, Marrone Bio Innovations
Knowledge Leader: Ann Cooper, Food Family Farming Foundation
Young Food Leader: Molly Rockamann, Earth Dance

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