Jim Cochran, founder and co-owner of Davenport, Calif.-based Swanton Berry Farm, was named a winner in the Natural Resources Defense Councilâs third-annual âGrowing Green Awardsâ recognizing those promoting sustainable agriculture and food.
Cochran started the first commercially successful organic strawberry operation in California and the first 100% unionized organic farm in the U.S., according to an April 26 release on the councilâs website.
âJim not only helped jump-start the organic strawberry industry, but is also encouraging fair labor practices among sustainable growers,â the San Francisco-based environmental group said in the statement.
Additionally, Cochranâs unique worker benefits, including an employee stock ownership plan, health coverage and a pension plan, ârecognize the workers on his farm as vital partners in the operation,â the council said.
Cochran won the âfood producerâ category and will receive a $10,000 cash prize, the council said. The council also gave awards in three other categories: business leader, knowledge leader and young food leader.
As the population grows and demand increases, itâs important to find ways to reduce waste and improve efficiency in food production, the council said.
âWe need a food system that can produce more while using fewer natural resources,â Jonathan Kaplan, the councilâs senior policy specialist, said in the statement.
The winners were selected from 265 candidates; they were honored at an April 28 dinner at Yoshiâs Restaurant and Jazz Club in San Francisco.