George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley Family of Farms, recently received the prestigious Sustie Award from the Ecological Farming Association at the organization's annual Eco-Farm Conference in Pacific Grove, California. The trophy Siemon received was a hand-carved gourd, the organization's symbol of agriculture stewardship.
"Organic Valley is a social experiment disguised as a business," says Siemon. "We are at the heart of the organic movement leading the industry and we must have faith in our movement and welcome the newcomers."
Siemon, an organic farmer for more than 20 years, has long championed a system of farming that sustains supports the family farmer economically, while promoting the well being of farm animals and protecting land, water, air and wildlife. In 1988, Siemon helped to organize a cadre of family farmers in rural Wisconsin which became the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools. Under his leadership and expertise, this organization evolved into Organic Valley Family of Farms - the largest organic farmers' cooperative in North America with 922 organic farmer-owners in 27 states and $335 million in 2006 sales.
Since 1988, the Ecological Farming Association has been celebrating citizens who have been actively and critically involved in sustainable agriculture.