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Organic Industry Changemakers Recognized by Rodale Institute

May 30, 2018 • by Rodale Institute
From left: Masumoto, Liebhardt, and Stephens

Announcing the winners of the 2018 Organic Pioneer Awards

Kutztown, Pennsylvania): With the organic movement stronger than ever, Rodale Institute, the global leader in research on regenerative organic agriculture, honors three outstanding individuals for their innovations and dedication to the industry’s growth. The recipients—Mas Masumoto, William Liebhardt, and Arran Stephens—will be recognized at the 8th annual Organic Pioneer Awards at Rodale Institute on September 8th, 2018

The celebration includes a full day of programming including an afternoon tour of the Institute and an al fresco lunch with the recipients, plus an intimate event and dinner held on the Institute’s historic 333-acre research farm, birthplace of the organic movement in the United States. The public is encouraged to join—find more event details and purchase tickets at

This year’s awardees are:

Mas Masumoto, a third-generation farmer growing organic peaches, nectarines, and raisins on his 80-acre farm south of Fresno, California. He is the award-winning author of eleven books, including Epitaph for a Peach, Wisdom of the Last Farmer, and Changing Season. “I’m honored to be part of the Rodale ‘family of pioneers’ as we all work to build a healthy world,” says Masumoto. In 2013, President Obama appointed Masumoto to the National Council on the Arts. 

William Liebhardt, a soil scientist who has dedicated himself to better understanding various farming systems and their impact on soil fertility, is a former Director of Research at Rodale Institute and the former director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at the University of California, Davis.

Arran Stephens is the founder and co-CEO of Nature’s Path, a company that utilizes 5,500 acres of regenerative farmland, has earned Zero Waste Certification for all three of its factories, and continues to advocate for agricultural practices that go beyond USDA Certified Organic. “My father taught me to always leave the soil better than you found it,” says Stephens. “I will be satisfied if my life’s work inspires others to do something for our threatened planet—for all generations to come.”

“Through their pioneering spirit and leadership, these individuals have inspired others to see and hold the connection between soil health and human health in the highest regard,” says Rodale Institute’s Executive Director, Jeff Moyer. “We’re deeply honored and privileged to acknowledge this year’s recipients for their incredible contribution to organic farms, science, and consumers.”

Sponsors of the event include Bonterra Wines, EO Soap Company, M&T Bank, Simply Organic, and others. Previous recipients of the Organic Pioneer Awards include Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia), David Bronner (Dr. Bronner’s), and George Siemon (Organic Valley).

About Rodale Institute: Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For seventy years, the Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet.

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