Soquel, CA, January 31, 2013 — Last week, over 1,500 farmers, distributors, researchers, and sustainable food system advocates gathered at the 33rd Annual EcoFarm Conference at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.

Soquel, CA, January 31, 2013 — Last week, over 1,500 farmers, distributors, researchers, and sustainable food system advocates gathered at the 33rd Annual EcoFarm Conference at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.  This event is the largest sustainable agriculture conference in the western United States.  It is produced by the Ecological Farming Association (EFA) and offers hands-on learning, workshops, and networking opportunities.  At each conference, the EFA Board of Directors designates three Sustie Awards to individuals or couples who are long-time Stewards of Sustainable Agriculture.  This year’s recipients of the Sustie include Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford, Mark Squire, and Steve Sprinkle and Olivia Chase.  In 2005, EFA began awarding the Justie Award, for Advocates of Social Justice.  The 2013 recipient of the Justie is Sister Miriam MacGillis.

As organic inspectors for twenty years, 2013 Sustie recipients Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford founded the International Organic Inspectors Association in 1991 and co-authored the International Organic Inspection Manual, Organic System Plan, and inspection report templates.  They have improved and expanded organic agriculture through their work in over fifteen countries around the world.  In the United States, Jim saw a need to reduce regulatory barriers on organic farmers, and he advocated for a national organic certification cost share which was established in the 2002 Farm Bill.  For the past seven years, Jim has worked for the University of Minnesota as Organic Outreach Coordinator.  Joyce served on the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OGBA) board in the late 1980’s.  She served two terms on the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) board; co-authored OTA’s Good Organic Retailing Practices (GORP) training manual; was a site monitor for pipelines crossing organic farms in Minnesota; and established a training program for this unique occupation. She currently does work for the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).

Sustie recipient Mark Squire founded Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax, CA in 1969 and runs it to this day. He was a co-author of the 1979 California Organic Farming Act, a co-founder and long time board member of CCOF, and continues to be an ecological activist and educator.  His store has developed numerous innovative projects including the organic school lunch program, which serves about 4,000 all-organic lunches a week at seven Marin County, CA schools, using no plastic packaging and distributed via a fleet of biodiesel vans. Prior to his involvement with retailing, Mark managed his family’s farm in North Carolina and transitioned it to organic. He is a founder and director of the Non-GMO Project.

Steve Sprinkle and Olivia Chase, the final 2013 Sustie recipients, are a farming and cooking couple from Ojai, California.  Steve was a student of Alan Chadwick at UCSC in the 60's and has been farming ever since.  He migrated to Texas for a few years and was a major supplier to Whole Foods Market in its early years.  After returning to California, he and his wife, Olivia Chase, founded The Farmer and the Cook, an-all organic farm café and marketplace.  Their Gozo Farm also supplies a sixty-member CSA and regional farmers markets. Steve was very active in the early days of CCOF's South Coast Chapter, serving in numerous positions.  As a writer, he contributed monthly columns for Acres USA for more than a decade. He is currently President of the Board of the Cornucopia Institute.

Justie Award winner Sister Miriam MacGillis became coordinator of Peace and Justice Education for the Newark Archdiocese in 1973. She later joined the staff of Global Education Associates as program coordinator and art editor of “The Whole Earth Papers” in 1976 and founded Genesis Farm in 1980, where she now lives and works. The farm, which practices biodynamic methods of agriculture, was one of the first to organize a very successful CSA program that currently serves over 300 families in the beautiful Ridge and Valley Region of Northwest New Jersey.  Genesis Farm offers hospitality and shared learning experiences through a variety of residential and non-residential educational.  Sister Miriam’s approach to learning is holistic—working to see all people and human cultures, in addition to the lands, waters and creatures of the planet, as an evolving, interconnected web of life.  In addition to her field days and on-farm classes, Sister Miriam has taken her earth literacy message throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. In acknowledgement of her commitment to creating a new world consciousness, she was named one of the world’s top 15 green religious leaders by Grist magazine in 2007.

To learn more about the EcoFarm Conference, visit