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Award Honorees

Zea Sonnabend, CCOF

2012 : Organic Leadership Award for Achievement in Growing Organic Agriculture

Sonnabend has been a policy specialist for CCOF since 1997, and is an organic farm inspector. After completing a Masters degree in Plant Breeding at Cornell University, she came to California and first worked as the produce manager in a food co-op and served as an organic gardening teacher. She and partners subsequently started Circle I Farm in Los Molinos, CA, which joined CCOF in 1982. Two years later, Sonnabend joined CCOF’s Board of Directors as a farmer member.

On the national front, Sonnabend helped guide the early National Organic Standards Board through its materials review process, serving directly for USDA’s National Organic Program from 1994 to 1996 as coordinator of the first Technical Advisory Panel that resulted in more than 160 materials being reviewed for the National List in only three years. In 1996, when it became apparent that a national version of a brand name review for formulated products was needed to serve the growing organic industry, Sonnabend became a founding member of the Organic Materials Review Institute, established in 1997. Serving on OMRI’s Board of Directors for six years, she continues to play key roles on the OMRI Crops Review Panel and Advisory Council. In 1993, she joined what is today the Ecological Farming Association, and went on to lead the Ecological Farming (EcoFarm) Conference to 2008, successfully promoting organic and sustainable farming among continuing and new farmers.