Organic Pioneers to Receive OTA Organic Leadership Award

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Organic Pioneers to Receive OTA Organic Leadership Award

Following its announcement double-digit growth for the organic industry, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has named the recipients of its Organic Leadership Awards: Canadian organic advocate Paddy Doherty and the United States' first and most influential organic rice growing family, Eldon, Wendell, Harlan and Homer Lundberg.

"Paddy Doherty and the Lundberg brothers are hard-working, committed organic heroes whose determination, passion and vision have helped the organic industry survive and thrive, despite often difficult and challenging times," said Christine Bushway, executive director of Greenfield, Mass.-based OTA.

The honorees will receive their awards at the OTA Annual Dinner and Dance on Wednesday, June 17, during the All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show in Chicago. The award trophy, a hand-blown glass "inhabited planet" by artist Josh Simpson, has been presented since 1997, when Sen. Patrick Leahy was the recipient.

The award in the "Achievement in Growing the Organic Industry" category is going to Doherty for helping to develop the organic standards and system in Canada, while the award in the "Achievement in Growing Organic Agriculture" will go to the Lundberg brothers for pioneering organic rice farming and increasing the number of organic acres and farmers.

For almost two decades, Doherty has focused on developing the organic sector in Canada, while continuing to farm organically on his family farm in Quesnel, British Columbia. Doherty wrote the Interpretive Guide for the Canada Organic Standard, was the first chair of the government-advisory Organic Value Chain Roundtable, and is a member of the Canadian General Standards Board Technical Committee on Organic Agriculture. He also helped to found the Organic Federation of Canada, and has held key posts with the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) Accreditation Criteria Committee and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Committee on conformity assessment.

"As both an organizer and an advocate, Paddy has been instrumental in bringing the organic sector together in Canada. Over many years, he helped to create uniform, national organic standards and a regulation for Canada," noted Bushway. "His vision will become a reality this June when Canada's Organic Products Regulations are implemented."

The Lundberg brothers began as a small niche player with 80 acres dedicated to organic rice. Today that acreage has expanded to 5,000. Their land also includes another 9,000 acres of land they contract to local farmers who were attracted to the Lundberg's positive approach to business. About 70 percent of the acreage is organic. Lundberg Family Farms has become the top grower and marketer of rice and rice products in the natural foods arena. They offer a wide range of organic and eco-farmed rice and rice products under the Lundberg Family Farms brand name. Although a new generation of Lundbergs is now running the business, Harlan and Homer are still actively involved with the company's research farm, while Eldon is a tireless promoter of the Lundberg brand and Wendell regularly serves as the family representative to local community groups. All four brothers serve as goodwill ambassadors to the company's employees, suppliers and customers.

"The Lundberg brothers are organic farming pioneers who developed farming practices that for the first time enabled rice to be grown organically in the U.S.," explained Bushway. "The Lundbergs encouraged many farmers to go organic, thus increasing the amount of land under organic management. They also helped build many of the organic farm and trade organizations that have become a solid part of the organic business community."