Source: Dixon Ridge Farms

Governor Schwarzenegger announced that Dixon Ridge Farms of Winters, Calif., has won the 2008 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its sustainable practices and work to reduce the effects of climate change. The award is California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor.

"This honor recognizes Dixon Ridge Farm's commitment to developing socially responsible and environmentally friendly practices that promote environmental protection and economic growth," Schwarzenegger said. "We all have an obligation to our families and community to protect our natural resources and environment for generations to come."

In nominating Dixon Ridge Farms California State Assembly Member Lois Wolk commended the farm's "...groundbreaking strides toward the creation of a truly sustainable farming operation in California."

Dixon Ridge Farms, the nation's largest handler of organic walnuts, follows a sustainable, whole systems approach to both farming and business. The company, a family farm, aims to grow and process healthy, wholesome food in an environmentally responsible manner. Since 1979, the farm and processing operations have worked to develop, promote and educate others about sustainable agriculture. The farm pioneered Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems to reduce pesticide and fertilizer usage in walnut production, re-circulates irrigation water runoff and embraces alternative sources of energy.

In 2007, Dixon Ridge set an ambitious 5-year goal for energy self-sufficiency and became the first on-farm user of a 50kW co-generator that converts walnut shell into renewable energy. To date this is the company's largest step in moving "off the grid" and "off the pipeline" as this new, green technology will supply 40% of the farm's overall electricity needs.

While many companies are purchasing green power, Dixon Ridge Farms continues to pioneer sustainable practices by generating its own renewable, non-food sources of energy on-site.

"Dixon Ridge Farms is an exceptional example of how our state's farmers are using adaptive management practices to conserve California's natural resources and protect our environment while remaining economically viable," said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

The Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership for voluntary achievements in conserving California's resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, and building public-private partnerships.

Award recipients are chosen in eight different categories based on their strength in eight specific areas including results, transferability, environmental impact, resource conservation, economic progress, innovation and uniqueness, pollution prevention, and environmental justice. Dixon Ridge Farms won for its plan for energy self-sufficiency and pioneering sustainable practices.

The farm is one of only 21 other recipients that will accept awards at Tuesday's ceremony in Sacramento.