The public voting period now is open for the 10 finalists of the fourth Green America "People & Planet" award, which recognizes America's best green small businesses. Each of three winners will receive $5,000. Voting ends on May 31.
The quarterly “People & Planet Awards” recognize innovative entrepreneurial U.S. businesses that integrate environmental and social considerations into their strategies and operations. This round of the awards focuses on businesses that have overall green practices and are committed to a sustainable food system. The winner will be announced in early June.
The 10 final contenders for this round of People & Planet Awards are: Alter Eco, San Francisco; Archi’s Acres, Escondido, Calif.; Blue Ridge Produce, Elkwood, Va.; The Chile Woman, Bloomington, Ind.; CleanFish, San Francisco; Flying J Farm, Johnstown, Ohio; Frankferd Farms Foods, Saxonburg, Pa.; Green City Growers, Somerville, Mass.; in.gredients, Austin, Tex.; and Love & Carrots, Washington, DC.
Future rounds of the quarterly small business awards from Green America will focus on workplace innovations and other sustainability practices. Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve social and environmental problems.
Alter Eco – Alter Eco believes whole, healthy, delicious food can make life better for people all over the world. By working directly with small-scale farmers who grow quinoa, rice, sugar and chocolate, helping them institute Fair Trade and organic practices, and giving them the tools to improve the quality and value of their product, Alter Eco is creating a system that benefits everyone involved. Since their start in 2004, Alter Eco’s co-op partners have enjoyed improved yields, true living wages, profit-sharing, medical insurance and the capital to create better infrastructures, healthcare and conditions in their communities.
Archi’s Acres – Through their farm, Colin and Karen Archipley have found a way to support sustainable agriculture while serving our nation's veterans. Now, Archi’s Acres is rolling out its VSAT program nationwide. This rollout has commenced with the construction of a 30,000 square foot “farm incubator” that can serve as the prototype for job-creating, water-saving, food-producing, veteran-led hydroponic organic greenhouses nationwide. The intention is to create real value and good jobs in countless American communities, by harnessing the power of the 1 percent of Americans who served in the past decade of war.
Blue Ridge Produce – Founded 2 years ago in the Northern Virginia Piedmont Region, Blue Ridge Produce aggregates produce from farms in Virginia for sale to wholesale customers in the Mid-Atlantic. Blue Ridge Produce lets farmers be farmers by giving them a consistent market for their produce and handling the marketing and distribution logistics. By taking the retail headache out of the equation, farmers can spend more time doing what they do best, growing crops in Virginia soil. This system keeps more money in the local economy, and significantly reduces food miles traveled.
The Chile Woman – The Chile Woman is dedicated to collecting, preserving and growing chile pepper varieties from all over the world, as well as preserving chile pepper biodiversity. The Chile Woman now maintains a seed bank of over 1,800 chile pepper varieties, and excludes all hybrid, GMO or bioengineered seeds. The business was hit by a tornado in May 2011. While the rebuilding has been arduous, there has been an uplifting outcome. Because so much old-growth tree cover was lost, solar power became a possibility. The company is celebrating the installation of a 5.2 K solar array that went online in January.
CleanFish – CleanFish has developed a trusted platform of both wild and farmed fisheries by turning their backs on industrial commodity fish operations. CleanFish looks to the artisanal, or family farm, levels of seafood production. The company carefully has cultivated regional networks of smaller, ethical fish producers whose principles and practices they know well through their proprietary screening and vetting processes. CleanFish has created access to native fisheries, such as Nunavut tribe's Arctic Char that is uniquely available through CleanFish. They have promoted innovation such as the move to organic production of many fish farms. Additionally, some producers have gone to larger infrastructure innovations such as wind and solar energy powering of their farms
Flying J Farm – Flying J Farm believes that sustainability begins with human health and that humans were placed here with brains to care for the rest of creation. Therefore, recycling, waste management, alternative energy production and management, minimizing financial costs, and environmental care are essential to sustaining life on this planet. Highlights of Flying J Farm's sustainability efforts include: 1) Outdoor wood furnace , 2) Solar thermal water heating, 3) An 11 KW solar electric system, 4) Biodiesel fuel produced from waste oil and used in most tractors, and much more.
Frankferd Farms Foods – Frankferd Farms Foods has been providing the region with organic, natural and bulk foods for over 35 years. In 1978, Betty and T. Lyle Ferderber launched Frankferd Farms Milling. They were some of the first organic farmers in the area. After 7 years of growing and milling grains on their 81-acre organic farm, the Ferderbers expanded to become a food distributorship in 1985. Since then, the food business outgrew its space on the family farm and moved to a much larger warehouse a few miles away. Frankferd is the only company of its kind in the region and serves over 3,000 customers in seven states. Since the business essentially grew out of an organic farm, its ethics are rooted in stewardship to the land.
Green City Growers – Green City Growers (GCG) transforms unused space into thriving urban farms, providing clients with immediate access to nutritious food, while revitalizing city landscapes and inspiring self-sufficiency. GCG produces and installs raised-beds, cold frames and rooftop farms in addition to providing farm maintenance, educational programming and consulting services for all interested in growing fruits and vegetables. GCG's clients include urban and suburban homeowners, corporate wellness programs, schools, healthcare facilities and restaurant/food service providers. Quality organic produce is expensive and difficult for the average family to procure. By bringing the farm to the consumer, GCG increases access to produce, fostering a stronger connection between people and the food they eat.
in.gredients – In.gredients is a zero-waste micro-grocer, providing the community with real, local food. As a business, they are changing the way people shop for groceries. By providing a majority of products in bulk and sourcing from local farmers, ranchers and producers, the store has become a green food leader in the Austin community. Customers can bring their own containers, fill them with high quality, organic GMO-free food and household items and leave without any unnecessary packaging. The store has over 300 products, with a majority of them made and produced in Texas.
Love & Carrots – Love & Carrots is a home organic gardening service which designs, installs and maintains vegetable gardens in D.C. and the surrounding suburbs. Founded by ecologist Meredith Sheperd, the vision of Love & Carrots is to educate people about the importance of local food and environmental stewardship through gardens. Love & Carrots promotes the growth of urban agriculture through a home-based garden education service that teaches families, businesses and organizations how to grow their own food.