Celia Barss, a 2002 graduate of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food System’s apprenticeship program at UC Santa Cruz, won the 2014 Land Steward Award as Georgia’s organic agriculture community held its 17th annual organics conference.

The awards ceremony brought more than 1,000 attendees to Jekyll Island to celebrate the coast and the myriad ways organic growers are essential to restoring natural resources in Georgia and beyond.   

Barss now runs Woodland Gardens, a certified organic vegetable, fruit and cut-flower farm in Winterville, Ga., just east of Athens.

In presenting the award, Georgia Organics noted Barss’s skill as a grower along with her business savvy and dedication to supporting the state’s organic agriculture community.

“This year’s honoree is a true leader and teacher today, not because she has sought those roles, but because she knows the direction to go and has so much knowledge to share,” said Daniel Parson of the farm at Oxford College-Emory University, who presented the award. “And as a mentor she is legendary because of her incredible track record of mentees who are still farming.”

The Land Steward Award honors an individual who has contributed greatly to the organic movement in Georgia both on the farm through environmentally friendly production, and off the farm through leadership, education, and outreach.