Every year, the Growing Green Awards honor exceptional leaders and innovators committed to sustainable food and agriculture. Hosted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) in San Francisco, the 2014 awards have been given to four individuals chosen among hundreds of other candidates across the United States. Winners have been awarded in four categories: Sustainable Livestock Producer, Sustainable Food and Farm Educator, Pollinator Protector, and Regional Food Leader.
“We are delighted to recognize these inspiring leaders. They have undertaken remarkable work to advance sustainable food and agriculture systems through innovative approaches,” said Ann Thrupp, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute.
Orley “Chip” Taylor, director of the Monarch Watch program based in the University of Kansas, is the winner in Pollinator Protection.
Since insect ecologist Chip Taylor founded Monarch Watch in 1992, the organization has enlisted thousands of citizens to protect the monarch butterfly from extinction. The butterfly’s numbers have sunk to 10 percent of what they were in 1996, largely because milkweed—the only food source for monarch larvae and where adults lay their eggs—has been wiped out by herbicides and the relentless expansion of corn and soy acres in the Midwest. Monarch Watch has enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers each year to track the butterfly’s population and advocate for its protection. Now Taylor is on a crusade to plant new milkweed habitat through Monarch Watch’s “Bring the Monarch Back” initiative.
Beginning in 2005, the program has sent milkweed plugs to over 160,000 schools, parks and home gardens, creating vital fuel sources for butterflies on their migration path from Canada to Mexico. For Taylor, the monarch’s decline signals a larger crisis affecting all pollinators, upon whom much of our food system and the food sources of so many animals depend.
Read Chip’s blog post: Bring Back the Monarchs!