The Organic Trade Association (OTA) will award three winners of their 2017 Leadership Awards at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, MD on September 13, 2017.

“These are three incredible change-makers who have helped shape the current environment for organic agriculture and trade, and I couldn’t be more excited to see their trade association—a place where they have each been actively engaged—recognize them for their vision and commitment to organic,” said Laura Batcha, CEO of the OTA, in a press release.

Robert (Bob) Anderson a Senior Trade Advisor for the OTA and founder of Sustainable Strategies LLC, will receive the “Growing the Organic Leadership Award.” Anderson, who became active in the organic industry by first operating Walnut Acres Organic Farms for 30 years, was the first chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board.

While nominating Anderson for the award, Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture, wrote, “We want him in the room, and organic growers—even those who have never met him—are fortunate to have him on their side. Bob helps his colleagues through customs on yet another trade mission; he delves into the differences between the rules for exporting to Japan and Germany; he injects a timely bit of common sense into a discussion of certification paperwork—and a thousand other things, day-in and day-out. But most importantly, no matter the outcome, those who have the privilege of working with Bob end the day wanting to work with him again.”

According to a press release by the OTA, Anderson has helped grow organic businesses and has even served as an ambassador for the organic industry both domestically and internationally.

“Bob has served Pennsylvania agriculture so well, as a charter member of the original Organic Trade and Marketing Board, as a founding member of the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and as an advisor and lecturer in Penn State University’s sustainable agriculture research and teaching curriculum,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, in the same press release. “I am truly pleased to see him get this well-deserved recognition.”

Receiving the “Organic Farmer of the Year Award,” will be Phil LaRocca, owner and vintner of LaRocca Vineyards. LaRocca, a farmer and farming advocate for over 40 years, has been credited by the OTA with creating the first certified non-sulfite wine, participating in formulating the national organic rule on organic wine and creating the California Food and Production Act. LaRocca has also been appointed to the California Organic Products Advisory Committee, is the chair of the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Board of Directors and is a long-time member of the OTA, where he serves on the Farmers Advisory Council.

The “Rising Star Organic Leadership Award” will go to Peggy Sutton, Founder and President of To Your Health Sprouted Flour. Currently To Your Health Sprouted Flour employes 30 people, of which 28 reside in Bullock County Alabama. According to the OTA, Sutton’s business is committed to sourcing the grains from Alabama framers and in doing so, helps conventional farmers “create a market for their organic grains and compressing cost of business by helping farmers sell directly to processors.”

“Peggy has been instrumental in educating thousands of people (including us at Kashi) about the benefits of organic sprouted grains for both people and the planet,” wrote David Uzzell, Senior Brand Manager, Kashi, for Sutton’s nomination. He added, “She is not only a leader in spreading the word of organic sprouted grains, but also in her local community. Peggy is very intentional on sharing the growth of the organic industry with her community by keeping her operations local and supporting the constituents of Bullock County.”

To obtain tickets to the 2017 OTA Leadership Awards or to inquire of sponsorship opportunities, contact Amy Bovaird

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 7/7/2017