The National Resources Defense Council has announced the 2011 winners of its annual sustainable food and agriculture awards and it includes a local grower from Santa Cruz.

Jim Cochran of Swanton Berry Farms in Santa Cruz was named the $10,000 award recipient in the Food Producer category. Considered a pioneer in organic strawberry growing in California, Cochran is now spearheading efforts to bring fair labor rights to organic farms.

Swanton Berry Farm not only initiated the organic strawberry industry, but was also the first 100% unionized organic farm in the country.

Cochran will be among the recipients being honored at the NRDC’s annual gala, being held Thursday night in San Francisco.

The National Resources Defense Council is an environmental action organization that works to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and ensure the safe and healthy environment for all living things.

Photo Credit: Swanton Berry Farms