Food Justice Leader: Tezozomoc of South Central Farmers

NRDC 2013 Growing Green Awards honor leaders and innovators in sustainable food and agriculture

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: April 9, 2013

Food Justice Leader: Tezozomoc of South Central Farmers

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) celebrates four remarkable food vanguards for their pioneering efforts to create healthier and more sustainable food systems at the fifth annual Growing Green Awards. The winners, who are leaders in tackling antibiotic resistance on farms, infusing urban areas with fresh produce in corner stores, championing business innovation in organic agriculture and empowering communities with sustainable food equity projects, will be honored this evening at the City View at Metreon in San Francisco.

"America's highly productive food system is often a disaster for health, communities and our environment," said Jonathan Kaplan, director of NRDC's Food and Agriculture Program. "But these entrepreneurs show us that we can defy the gravity of the conventional food industry and innovate smarter, healthier, and more equitable ways to produce food."

An independent panel of prestigious sustainable food thought-leaders selected the four winners from a pool of 200 impressive candidates that included diverse growers, business leaders and food change agents across the country. The 2013 winners are:

Winner of the Food Justice Award: Tezozomoc, South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund (Buttonwillow, California)

When the city of Los Angeles threatened to bulldoze the nation's largest community food garden in 2003, local leader Tezozomoc and his community rose in its defense. He rallied the 350 families who grew food to feed themselves from the 14-acre South Central Garden, engaging in one of America's most important battles for urban agricultural land use.

Although the Garden was ultimately closed, Tezozomoc gave it new life through a now-thriving 85-acre, 100% organic cooperative farm in Buttonwillow, California, and the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund (SCFHEF), a grassroots nonprofit that provides a rich, culturally-relevant variety of organic produce to Los Angeles CSAs, farmers markets and underserved neighborhoods.

Tezozomoc incubates small farming cooperatives and empowers small growers with technical and ecological farm management knowledge, market access, and financial viability to create hope for historically marginalized communities.

"By creating new economic opportunities right in our own backyard, we hope to strengthen communities' ability to grow and eat healthy food as well as reconnect to the priceless cultural heritage behind it," said Tezozomoc. "Community-based agriculture can prosper if equity is the guiding principle. That equity means having access to healthy food, good jobs and working conditions, and land ownership and resources."

See video of the 2013 winner Food Justice Leader Tezozomoc:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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