From the NYT:
“Ben Burkett is still farming a parcel of land in Mississippi that his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1889, about two decades after slavery ended. He grows 16 vegetables, including okra and soybeans, on 320 acres, but he is also active in several organizations that promote local food production for local consumption.“Our work is to bring awareness to the plight of the true family farm,” Mr. Burkett, 62, said over the phone from his farm in Petal, in Southern Mississippi. Mr. Burkett is one of five winners of the James Beard Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries in the world of food politics and sustainable agriculture.”
Great news. I have learned a great deal from working with the folks at Indian Springs, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives and truly, from Ben himself (and for the last few years, his daughter Darnella too.) This past Saturday, he accepted congratulations from his peers and shoppers at the New Orleans farmers market where he showed up to sell his products, just as he has every season since 1995 even with the grueling schedule he keeps assisting with initiatives near and far to expand local wealth and health for communities. No one deserved this award more this year.
and congrats to his fellow winners, all of whom also richly deserve the honor:
“… include Karen Washington, the former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and an urban farmer; Michael Pollan, the writer and journalist who has written extensively about food and food politics; Navina Khanna, a fellow at the Movement Strategy Center who has worked to create awareness and action around food justice issues; and Mark Bittman, an author and food writer for The New York Times.”