Our Most Inspiring Profiles of 2019 | Civil Eats

Our Most Inspiring Profiles of 2019

From farmers to chefs to community organizers, meet some of the leaders working to improve the food system.

collage of inspiring people civil eats profiled in 2019

In times like these, it’s imperative to shine a light on those rare individuals who are unwavering in their dedication to create positive change. While we’ve profiled farmers, innovators, and other change-makers since day one, this year we made it an even bigger priority, because we know that many of our readers are hungry for good news. Some of the people you’ll read about below were featured in our monthly farmer-of-the month profiles, but others have found unique ways to work in the public or private realms to advance sustainability and equity. Still others are changing the narrative about the food system in a transformative way. All are working towards creating positive solutions for a better food system in their communities and we raise a glass to them.


How an Oregon Rancher is Building Soil Health—and a Robust Regional Food System
Fourth-generation rancher Cory Carman holistically manages 5,000-acres which serve as a model for sustainable meat operations in the Pacific Northwest.

At This Small, Family-Run Dairy, Animal Welfare Comes First
At Long Dream Farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Abrahams allow their heritage breed cattle to live out their lives and serve as partners in food production.

Melissa and Andy Dunham with a weekly CSA share from their farm. (Photo courtesy of Grinnell Heritage Farm)

Grinnell Heritage Farm is Farming Against Type—and Against the Odds—in Iowa
One of Iowa’s largest community supported agriculture farms, which is built around numerous conservation practices, fights for survival amidst economic and climate pressures.

An Indigenous Community Deepens its Agricultural Roots in Tucson’s San Xavier Farm
After securing much-needed water rights, the co-op farm on the Tohono O’odham reservation is honoring thousands of years of the tribe’s farming history.

Finca Conciencia Is Building Food Sovereignty on Vieques Island
The only agro-ecological farm on the Caribbean island is feeding people who have long struggled with food access—and working to advance social and political freedom in the process.

Regenerating the Soil Transformed this Indiana Farm
On his 7,000-acre property, Rick Clark uses non-GMO seeds, no-till farming, crop rotation, and cover crop diversity to regenerate soils and turn a profit.

Heinz Thomet inside a greenhouse at Next Step Produce in MarylandA Maryland Grain Grower Takes Regenerative Agriculture to the Next Step
Heinz Thomet works in balance with nature to grow highly sought-after specialty crops, while sequestering carbon and building a regional food economy.

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The Minnesota Farmers Who Helped Shape Organic Agriculture
Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford, founders of the International Organic Inspectors Association and long-time organic inspectors and teachers, live out their values at Blue Fruit Farm.

Gail Taylor. (Photo © Lise Metzger.)

The Woman Leading the Way for Urban Farming in the Nation’s Capital
Gail Taylor, ‘The People’s Farmer,’ feeds her community with Three Part Harmony Farm and helped pass legislation to benefit urban farmers in D.C.

Biodiversity and Animal Welfare are Paramount for These Second-Generation North Carolina Farmers
Worth and Hillary Kimmel apply high welfare standards in their intensive, multi-species grazing and are growing ‘beyond organic’ crops with minimal inputs.

Veterans Find Purpose and Healing at Comfort Farms
The 20-acre central Georgia farm, founded by former U.S. Army Ranger Jon Jackson, helps struggling veterans find connection and belonging as they care for the land and animals.

Rolando Herrera Is Blazing a Trail for Latinx Winemakers
The farmer-winemaker’s award-winning Mi Sueño Winery is built on generational dedication to soil health and respect for the land.


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Meet Kate Greenberg, Colorado’s New Commissioner of Agriculture
The first woman to be appointed to the position, Greenberg brings a fresh focus to the office.

melony samuels in a hoop house providing food for Brooklyn residentsMeet the Woman Helping Change the Way Brooklyn Eats
Reverend Melony Samuels, the founder of the largest food pantry in the borough, is fighting poverty and changing her neighborhood’s relationship to healthy food.

The ‘Nativore’ Chef Working to Improve Nutrition in Indigenous Communities
Chef Lois Ellen Frank is fighting for good, clean, and fair food for Native populations through nutrition education.

Maine’s New Ag Commissioner Seeks to Develop a Robust Regional Food Economy
With Amanda Beal, the state could set a national example for creating a sustainable, healthy, and just regional food system.

William Padilla-Brown with shiitake mushrooms.

Bringing Mushroom Cultivation to the People
Self-taught mushroom grower and entrepreneur William Padilla-Brown wants to make high-profit mushroom farming accessible to everyone, especially communities of color.

Meet the Women Building Political Power for Farmworkers in the Central Valley
In Farm Country, the mother-daughter team behind El Quinto Sol de America have spent the last 15 years helping its poorest residents advocate for the health and safety of their communities.

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The Native Musician and Poet Revitalizing Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Artist and activist Lyla June is working with tribal elders to restore traditional foodways.

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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