The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld recognized Dixon Ridge Farms in a Winters, Calif., environmental award ceremony. The Pacific Southwest Region’s 2012 Sustainable Agricultural Champion Award was presented to the organic walnut farm’s founder, Russ Lester.

“EPA applauds Dixon Ridge Farms for its many sustainable practices that protect the quality of our air, water and land,” Blumenfeld said. “This farm exemplifies organic and agricultural self-sufficiency, and promotes that potential to the farming community at large.”

From renewable energy production to water conservation and reduced packaging, Dixon Ridge Farms has emerged as a leader in sustainable farming for California’s agricultural industry. The farm produces energy through a biogas-powered generator that is fed from the farm’s walnut shells, usually a waste product. This energy offsets the farm’s electricity and propane needs. The farm also has 3,500 square feet of solar panels installed on rooftops, with an expansion planned.

The farm practices low and no till mowing practices, reducing air emissions and fossil fuels. Composted manure, chipped walnut prunings, cover cropping and integrated pest management practices are all used in combination for fertilizing and pest management needs. This results in the use of zero synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides.

The farm also uses sustainable packaging for walnut shipments. For example, 100 percent recycled paper kraft board is used rather than bleach board, which is commonly used in the industry. These sustainable practices reduce the impact on natural resources and have reduced the farm’s carbon footprint. The farm reported these sustainable practices have allowed them to remain profitable.