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This Year's Growing Green Award Winners Announced.

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Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council celebrated sustainable food with the first Growing Green Awards And now NRDC has just announced the second year's winners (and everyone's chance to nominate someone for next year's awards!) Proving that as sustainable food production and its promotion continues to grow, NRDC will be there to reward them.

The contest saw 170 incredible candidates for the awards in four categories, Food Producer, Business Leader, Thought Leader, and Water Steward. Winners, like in the inaugural year, are literally from all around the country, doing everything from making fine wine to growing walnuts - meaning that no matter what you're growing, you can grow it green.

This year's winner of Food Producer is Russ Lester, of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters, CA. He is the co-owner of the farms and they are the largest handler of organic walnuts in the U.S. While already in the process, his goal is for the farm to become 100 percent self-sufficient by 2012. Lester doesn't just farm the walnuts; he also converts the shells into energy, which creates electricity that can be used in the farming process. Watch his video to see more.

The winner of Business Leader is Karl Kupers, of Shepherd's Grain in Harrington, WA. As co-founder, he connects with more than 30 growers in the Northwestern US to encourage sustainable wheat growth. Shepherd's Grain requires no-tillage growing methods, which reduce global warming pollution. His video is here.

The award of Thought Leader belongs to Fred Kirschenmann, of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY. Kirschenmann is the president of the board of directors and helped establish this nonprofit that advances community-based food production. The center functions as a farm, kitchen, laboratory and teaching campus for local residents. This brings together growers, scientists, chefs and executives to continue the goal of successful local food systems. Watch his video on his organization here.

The final award of Water Steward went to Mike Benziger, of Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, CA. Benziger is a founder of the winery that recycles an average of 2 million gallons of water each year. He uses new technologies and reduces water runoff and helps educate other growers across the country on nurturing the environment while still creating high-quality wines. Watch his video to see more.

If you're interesting in learning more about how the winners got nominated, and how you can nominate people for next year's awards, all the details are here.

The celebration of these awards comes to a keynote on April 29, when the awards will be presented in San Francisco. The celebration will be held at Yoshi's Jazz Club and will feature jazz and locally-grown foods. The event is open to the public but tickets are going fast.

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