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Benny McLean receives OTA’s Farmer of the Year Award

bennymcleanWilliam “Benny” McLean converted his citrus operation to organic farming in 1999, growing such organic citrus varieties as Pummelos, red grapefruit, Valencias, red navels, and honey tangerines. He was the first certified organic citrus grower in Uncle Matt’s Organic farm plan, and operates as the production manager for Uncle Matt’s, overseeing all of the organic farming operations for the company.

He is responsible for converting close to 1,500 acres of citrus in Florida to organic, and assisted over 25 small family growers to convert to organic production. He has also worked with South Lake Hospital to develop a community organic garden, and continues to consult with the individual gardeners on organic growing methods. In addition he has assisted avocado, blueberry, blackberry and peach growers in Florida to convert to organic.

He has been actively involved in research to find a cure to citrus greening through grants to Uncle Matt’s and with his own resources. McLean is often sought out to share his knowledge on pesticide usage, nutrient density and organic methodology.

See more by clicking here and read the release below.


Three change-makers selected to receive 2015 Organic Leadership Awards

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – A long-time organic champion who played a key role in creating today’s organic sector, an organic entrepreneur who’s brought organic to America’s fast-food lovers, and an organic citrus grower who revolutionized our favorite breakfast juice are the winners of the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2015 Organic Leadership Awards.

Recognized for their outstanding work in advancing organic agriculture and trade, these three change-makers will be honored at OTA’s annual awards dinner September 16 at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore as a kick-off event to Natural Products Expo East.

“This year’s winners have truly changed—and are changing—the organic world, our agriculture and the way we eat through their commitment, creativity and hard work,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s Executive Director/CEO. “We are honored that these three tireless and inspirational individuals have been nominated by their peers and chosen for this well-deserved recognition by OTA’s Board of Directors.”

This year’s honorees are:

  • Thomas Harding, President, Lehigh Valley Organic Growers, Growing the Organic Industry Award
  • Michael A. Berger, Founding Partner & VP Supply Chain, Elevation Burger, Rising Star Award
  • Benny McLean, Production Manager, Uncle Matt’s Organic, Farmer of the Year Award

Organic Farmer of the Year

William “Benny” McLean converted his citrus operation to organic farming in 1999, growing such organic citrus varieties as Pummelos, red grapefruit, Valencias, red navels, and honey tangerines. He was the first certified organic citrus grower in Uncle Matt’s Organic farm plan, and operates as the production manager for Uncle Matt’s, overseeing all of the organic farming operations for the company.

He is responsible for converting close to 1,500 acres of citrus in Florida to organic, and assisted over 25 small family growers to convert to organic production. He has also worked with South Lake Hospital to develop a community organic garden, and continues to consult with the individual gardeners on organic growing methods. In addition, he has assisted avocado, blueberry, blackberry and peach growers in Florida to convert to organic.

He has been actively involved in research to find a cure to citrus greening through grants to Uncle Matt’s and with his own resources. McLean is often sought out to share his knowledge on pesticide usage, nutrient density and organic methodology.

“Benny Mclean has been very instrumental in putting Florida on the map as a source for organic citrus products, while also playing a key role in providing valuable insight into potential strategies all citrus growers, researchers and consultants could utilize in the effort to overcome the effects of the very destructive disease citrus greening, a serious threat to the future sustainability of the entire industry. Benny has happily been a mentor to numerous citrus and blueberry growers interested in organic production, and has proven what many said could not be done by making organic peach production in Florida a reality,” said Gary K. England, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Agent for fruit crops.

The awards celebration will be held in the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, an 80,000-square-foot facility in Baltimore with unique exhibits. Tickets are now on sale, and sponsorship opportunities are available.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

Rave Reviews

We’ve been buying Uncle Matt’s organic grapefruit this season at our local Earth Fare store and we have never had such exquisite grapefruit before! As long as the crop holds out, my wife and I are on a “one-a-day” program with no variation in the quality of the fruit. Not only is the flavor superb, but the fruit is copiously juicy. Reaming the rind after eating nets almost a half a glass of more juice. Easily 2x the norm. Thanks for bringing the best grapefruit we have ever eaten to market! — Jim D., Asheville, NC

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