Three change-makers to receive Organic Leadership Awards

An organic trade advisor who has worked for decades to open the global world of organic and act as an important organic ambassador both domestically and internationally, an organic grape grower and winemaker with unwavering commitment to organic advocacy and community, and an unlikely entrepreneur who has built a booming business around sprouting organic flours and grains to start a new trend for the organic industry will each be honored with a 2017 Organic Trade Association Leadership Award.


Growing the Organic Industry

Receiving the Growing the Organic Industry Leadership Award will be Robert (Bob) Anderson of Sustainable Strategies LLC—Advisors in Food and Agriculture, who serves as Senior Trade Advisor for the Organic Trade Association.

Bob first became active in organic by operating Walnut Acres Organic Farms, America’s first organic value-added food processor, for 30 years beginning in 1969. A long-time organic pioneer, he was the first chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board. Over his career, he has championed organic standards, helped grow organic businesses, and served domestically and internationally as an ambassador for organic.

“I am truly pleased to see Bob get this well-deserved recognition,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. He added, “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. 


Organic Farmer of the Year

Phil LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards will receive the 2017 Organic Farmer of the Year Leadership Award. A tireless organic farming advocate and farmer for over 40 years, Phil has deep organic convictions that he puts into practice on his farm, in his winery, and in the wider community, particularly in California.

Phil became the first certified organic apple grower in 1975 and created the first certified non-sulfite wine back when most people said it was not possible to do either. Over the years, LaRocca Vineyards has sold over a million bottles of non-sulfite organic wine, and created an industry space for others to follow. He was active in creating the California Food and Production Act, and participated in formulating the national organic rule on organic wine. 

As an organic wine grape grower and winemaker, Phil understands the challenges faced by small and mid-scale growers and processors. What sets him apart is his unwavering commitment to organic advocacy and community. He is chair of the CCOF Board of Directors, has been appointed to the California Organic Products Advisory Committee, and is a valuable long-time member of the Organic Trade Association. He currently serves on OTA’s Farmers Advisory Council.


Rising Star

Peggy Sutton of To Your Health Sprouted Flour will receive the Rising Star Organic Leadership Award. Before building one of the organic industry’s latest trends, Peggy was an innovator and health-conscious, family-focused home cook. Now, she is an expert in the field of sprouting organic flours and grains. In 2005, Peggy resurrected this ancient method in her kitchen. Today, her business employs 30 people, 28 of whom reside in Bullock County Alabama, where To Your Health Sprouted Flour is based, in one of the most economically poor counties in the state.

Peggy has demonstrated personal commitment and vision as an emerging leader in the organic sector through product innovation, community education, economic impact, and commitment to growing organic acres. Her company has committed to sourcing the grains from Alabama farmers. In doing so, she has taken on the challenges of helping long-time conventional farmers transition, creating a market for their organic grains, and compressing costs of businesses by helping farmers sell directly to processors. This has helped eliminate some of the anxiety transition brings.

Peggy’s company To Your Health Sprouted Flour is a long-standing member of the Organic Trade Association, and participates in export activities in Europe and Asia.


The Organic Trade Association’s 2017 Leadership Awards Celebration will take place Wednesday, September 13, at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, MD. Learn more about tickets and sponsorship opportunities in the Programs & Events section of ota.com. //

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