EcoFarm Awards: Stewards of Sustainable Agriculture and Advocate of Social Justice
This year, the Stewards of Sustainable Agriculture Award, also known as the “Sustie" was awarded to Frank and Karen Morton, Susan Clark, and Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward. The Advocate of Social Justice Award or the "Justie" was awarded to The Homeless Garden Project and accepted by Executive Director Darrie Ganzhorn.
Frank and Karen Morton
Frank and Karen Morton were salad growers for fine chefs for nearly two decades, beginning in 1983. During this period Frank used their commercial salad production as a wide ranging breeding program to create new varieties suited to organic conditions, and the tastes of chefs. The Mortons started Wild Garden Seed in 1994 to release new varieties bred within their organic system, on the premise that these genetics will perform better for organic farmers. After 2 decades in the seed business, the Morton's supply most of the seed companies that serve organic growers. They have recently pledged 133 of their seed lines to the Open Source Seed Initiative to ensure that their seed will remain free for breeders and farmers to grow and use into the future.
Susan R. Clark is the Director of Programs for Gaia Fund, a family foundation with grantmaking focused on Sustainable Agriculture, Effective Democracy, and Jewish Life and Culture in San Francisco. Clark is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, has an M.A. in Urban Studies from Occidental College, was a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Venezuela. She directed community programs for Lone Mountain College, was the Executive Director of Columbia Foundation for 35 years, and the Mortimer Fleishhacker Foundation for five years, and served on the board of directors of the Council on Foundations and Northern California Grantmakers. She is a member of the board of directors of the Arkay Foundation (www.arkay.org) and serves on the advisory board for Upstream (www.upstreampolicy.org), which promotes a closed-loop materials economy.
She has been honored by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council (Forces of Nature Award) for her early advocacy, and long-term philanthropic leadership, to promote sustainable food and farming systems as solutions to environmental and social challenges of food production.
Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward
Ken Kimes and Sandra Ward, husband and wife, and co-owners of Greensward/New Natives established their greenhouse growing microgreens and sprouts shortly after they arrived in Santa Cruz, Ca. in 1980. They received their organic certification from CCOF in 1982. Their farming career spans 35 years. Their greens are distributed in the Bay Area to the wholesale market, along with direct delivery to retail stores and 8 farmers markets year round. They employ 12 full time and 5 part-time employees.
In addition to managing their farm full time, Kimes and Ward are both outspoken activists who dedicated more than thirty years to the sustainable agriculture movement. Including helping to establish CCOF, Santa Cruz Community Farmers Market, and standing up for organically grown seed.
The Homeless Garden Project
The Homeless Garden Project, celebrating 25 years last year, provides transitional employment, job training and support services to people who are homeless. In complement, the project operates a thriving and vibrant community education and volunteer program that served nearly 2500 people last year. HGP's programs take place in their 3.5 acre organic farm and related enterprises.Workforce development research shows that real work experience works better than stand alone training in preparing people to transition into jobs. This is what the Homeless Garden Project does. Trainees are paid for their work, it is real work, the work of operating our farm, CSA, Farm Stand and Value-added Enterprise. They can stay in the program for up to one year and the overarching goal--a bold and daring goal--is that trainees leave the program with jobs and housing. Last year, 92% of the graduating class obtained a job and housing. Another way HGP's produce is used is through their program known as Feed Two Birds. In partnership with their donor community, trainees, staff and volunteers grew, harvested and distributed organic produce to an estimated 1400 low income people via 8 nonprofit partners such as Santa Cruz AIDS Project and the River Street Shelter each week during our 23 week harvest season. The project's programs exist at the intersection of urban agriculture and food-justice movements, transitional jobs and job training, homeless services and therapeutic horticulture. There is a synergy among these purposes and ideals in daily practice at the farm.