Meet Rodale Institute’s 2021 Organic Pioneer Award Recipients

View of Rodale Institute outside of it's Visitor Center.

Kutztown, PA—Rodale Institute has announced the recipients of the 11th Annual Organic Pioneer Awardsan annual recognition of leaders who are changing the landscape of regenerative organic agriculture for the better. Congratulations to the 2021 Organic Pioneer Award recipients: Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides Founder and Executive Director; Denise O’Brien, farmer and activist; and Don Bustos, New Mexico farmer.

“The regenerative organic movement has continued to grow exponentially in the face of unprecedented challenges over the past year, and that’s due in large part to leaders and pioneers like Jay, Denise, and Don,” said Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute CEO. “The Organic Pioneer Awards are an opportunity to recognize not just what has been achieved, but the kind of future we can build together. These three awardees are wonderful examples of the kind of life-long commitment, passion, and drive that makes an Organic Pioneer, and we are proud to honor them in 2021.”

Learn more about the 2021 award winners:

Jay Feldman

Jay Feldman, Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, has 40 years of experience working with communities nationwide on toxins and organic policies and practices, addressing agricultural, lawn, and landscape management practices that maintain ecological balance, enhance biodiversity, and eliminate toxic chemical use. Jay has successfully fought to remove from the market hazardous pesticides and helped draft pivotal local, state, and federal organic law.

Jay served as Chair of the Crops Committee for the National Organic Standards Board, Chair and Board member of Earth Share, and currently serves on the standards board of the Real Organic Project and the executive committee of the National Organic Coalition.

Related: Perspectives: How Farming Changed One Woman’s Life
Regenerative Agriculture in the Age of COVID-19 & Beyond
Regenerative Agriculture: 25 Things to Know Now
Denise O’Brien

Denise O’Brien, farmer and community activist from Atlantic, Iowa, is the co-founder of Women, Food and Agriculture Network and past Chair of the Board of Directors for Pesticide Action Network of North America. She helped found, and served on the board of, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust and currently serves on the board of the Iowa Organic Association, is the Chair for the county Democratic Party, and is an Assistant Soil and Water Commissioner.

O’Brien served as an Agriculture Advisor in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012 and used that experience to deepen her knowledge of women farmers on an international level. She has farmed with her husband, Larry Harris, for 45 years and maintains seventeen acres of the original Harris farm, 5 of which are in certified organic fruit and vegetable production incorporating a high tunnel and greenhouse for starter plants as well as turkeys.

Don Busto

Don Bustos, family farmer from Northern New Mexico, was one of the first farmers in New Mexico to receive organic certification and has been certified for over 20 years. Don is a co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Mexico Program, where he focuses on training beginning farmers and developing farmer networks throughout the state. He served on the USDA’s Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) board and was the chair of the Western SARE board from 2011-2013. He also serves on the board of the New Mexico Acequia Association and is a former board member of the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. Don played a lead role in developing the vision and raising the funds for the Santa Fe Farmers Market Complex.