Rodale Institute Announces 2017 Organic Pioneer Award Recipients

Rodale Institute has announced the recipients to be honored at the upcoming 7th Annual Organic Pioneer Awards (OPA) dinner. The OPA is an opportunity to recognize a research scientist, farmer and business that are leading the way to an organic planet. Recipients include researcher Dr. Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University; organic farmer, Tom Beddard, Lady Moon Farms; and founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. This year’s awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Dr. Kathleen Delate – Iowa State University
Delate is a Professor at Iowa State University with a joint position between the departments of Horticulture and Agronomy, where she is responsible for research, extension and teaching organic agriculture. She was awarded the first faculty position in Organic Agriculture at a land-grant university in the United States in 1997. She has a B.S. in Agronomy and an M.S. in Horticulture from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Ecology from the University of California-Berkeley. She has farmed organically in Iowa, California, Florida and Hawaii. In 2014 she spent her sabbatical studying organic farming in Italy with a few of their 48,000 organic farmers.

Tom Beddard – Lady Moon Farms
With a dream to live in the country, smell the fresh air and see the stars at night, Tom Beddard founded Lady Moon Farms in 1988 with his wife Christine on five acres in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Lady Moon Farms was a founding member of Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) with Christine acting as the founding secretary and Tom as the founding President of Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO). Lady Moon Farms is known for its ethically and socially just practices, providing year-round employment and fair wages. It was the first tomato grower to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2009 and it is also the first produce grower to support Whole Foods Market’s non-profit, Whole Kids Foundation, supporting schools to improve children's nutrition and wellness. Lady Moon Farms is now one of the premiere organic vegetable growers in the country with over 2,400 acres and more than 200 full time employees, providing produce year-round with farms in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Yvon Chouinard – Patagonia
Yvon Chouinard was born in Lewiston, Maine in 1938, and raised in Southern California. There, as a teen he taught himself how to climb, surf, skin dive—and blacksmith. By the early 1970s when he founded Patagonia, Chouinard Equipment pitons, carabiners and ice axes had become the world standard. Spending 140 days a year in the natural world, Chouinard learned early in his life as an alpinist, surfer and fly fisherman the seriousness of the environmental crisis—and he brought this knowledge to bear on his work. In the late 1980s he instituted Patagonia’s earth tax, pledging 1 percent of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.  In the 1990s, Chouinard encouraged Patagonia to consciously reduce the environmental footprint of its products and activities, beginning with a 100 percent switch from conventional to organic cotton and the introduction of fleece clothing made from recycled polyester.  He then sought to work with other partners to companies to reduce environmental harm on a global scale. Chouinard, either independently, or with Patagonia helped co-found with others the Fair Labor Association, One Percent for the Planet, the Textile Exchange, the Conservation Alliance, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. In addition, Patagonia has been a B Corp member since 2012. Chouinard continues to surf and fly fish. He is the author or co-author of “Climbing Ice,” “Let My People Go Surfing,” “The Responsible Company,” and “Simple Fly Fishing.” More recently Yvon started Patagonia Provisions to have a direct impact on our food system through regenerative organic agriculture.

The 7th Annual Organic Pioneer Awards ceremony begins with a sunset wagon ride through Rodale Institute’s farm punctuated with a champagne toast for the research scientist awardee, followed by a sit-down farm-to-table dinner comprised of fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from Rodale Institute’s 333-acre, certified organic farm. Engaging speakers and connecting with others who support food and farming systems that seek to improve human and planetary health is at the heart of the event. There is also an optional daytime event, prior to the awards dinner, where guests spend an entire day meeting with Rodale’s scientists and farmers, touring the farm, and seeing up close the cutting-edge research that Rodale Institute is known for around the globe. All proceeds from the event support Rodale Institute’s research, education and outreach.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

One Response to “Rodale Institute Announces 2017 Organic Pioneer Award Recipients”

  1. michael gondell

    I have been visiting Rodale Institute and Farm for over 30 years. Please keep up the good work and highlighting those who continue to grow the organic farm movement.

    Hope to attend awards dinner this year.




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