Sustainable Agriculture Award Winners Conserve with Zeal

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team for 10 years and is Co-Chair of EPA’s Green Building Workgroup.

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Feasting is something I really enjoy, and it’s so much better when the food is produced locally and sustainably! EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region recently recognized these amazing environmental and agricultural community leaders:

Innovative Family Farm Watershed Protection

The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District’s Voluntary Incentive Based Program on Agricultural Land in coastal Sonoma County is a small grass roots special district, and it is a special district indeed!

image of wetlandsBy working closely with small coastal family farms in the Estero Americano and Salmon Creek Watersheds they protected watersheds through direct on-farm conservation support.

Here are just a few of the things they did –

  • Worked closely with the agricultural community so a whopping 80% of landowners in both watersheds participated in reducing nutrient and sediment loadings,
  • Prevented 50,000 cubic years of sediment from entering streams through 25 restoration projects on 12 family farms,
  • Upgraded critical roads on 60% of all properties in the Salmon Creek Watershed, and
  • Conducted extensive soil, manure and water quality sampling.

This model watershed protection partnership has kept family farms both environmentally and economically sustainable, and I can’t wait to sample the harvest!

Another winner was recognized for developing super-sustainable fruit.

Zeal Brand Sustainable Fruit

Zeal brand was first introduced in the retail market in 2008 to promote sustainable farming practices. All Zeal fruit is certified by Protected Harvest to ensure that Zeal fruit is grown in compliance with the most environmentally and socially sound standards for soil, water, pesticides, and labor.

The Zeal brand is also pushes sustainability through the entire supply chain. All the brand’s packaging and marketing materials are designed to be low impact and sustainably produced. In addition, Zeal advertising materials are printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

I understand the company’s message is dear to every person involved — from field to fork. The production crews are proud to have a direct influence on the protection of the local environment and Zeal consumers are happy to buy fruit that supports growers making a difference.

For those of your with toddlers, I bet you’re thinking of that great tune, “Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy.” My fork is ready – is yours?

These groups have done amazing sustainable agriculture work in California. Please share your ideas and tips on sustainable agriculture.

To learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Environmental award winners, visit