People and Planet Award Winners: Sustainable Food

Submitted by Mary Meade on
From left to right: Susan Welsand of The Chile Woman, the Green City Growers team, and Meredith Shepherd of Love & Carrots

Since 2012, Green America's People and Planet Award has recognized outstanding small businesses with deep commitments to social justice and environmental sustainability. This project has been made possible thanks to a special donor committed to giving a boost to innovative entrepreneurs. The People and Planet Award has bestowed over $300,000 on green businesses since its inception.

The three winners of the Sustainable Food award in 2013 were The Chile Woman, Green City Growers, and Love & Carrots.

The Chile Woman
Susan Welsand of The Chile Woman
Green City Growers
Green City Growers team
person holding a bin of plants with a t-shirt that says love and carrots
Love and Carrots

Where are they now?

At the conclusion of the People and Planet Award, we reached out to the winners to learn how the prize helped their business. Below are their answers. 

How did the People and Planet Award money help your business?

The Chile Woman: The publicity it generated locally and nationally was fantastic. Locally, it was a great example of community. The people of Bloomington and my customers really rallied around the contest and showed their support. A cash infusion of $5,000 is great for any small business. For a farmer, whose income is never guaranteed, this was an extra bonus.

Green City Growers: The money we received in 2013 allowed us to invest in re-branded our company and launching a new, more professional website. This has led to us getting more business. We also appreciated the recognition we received from receiving the award and gained additional visibility for our company.

Love & Carrots: It got me off the ground! The $5000 from GA was pivotal. At the time I was still boot strapping everything, pouring all my time into the company and living very cheaply with no cash to spare- pouring everything back into the company.

What did you use the prize money for?

The Chile Woman: Remodeling a space for our proposed chile product store onsite at the greenhouse. Now that space is full of a couple thousand chile plants pulled in anticipation of a hard freeze. I’ll be picking fresh peppers in there today to prep for tomorrow’s Eastside Farmers Market.

Green City Growers: The money we received in 2013 allowed us to invest in re-branded our company and launching a new, more professional website.

Love & Carrots: The prize money helped me buy a larger pickup truck.

What is your business up to now?

The Chile Woman: This was a challenging season weather wise. We also missed the protection of our treasured llama who passed away last year. Not only did he protect the sheep and the chickens, he kept deer out of the field and house gardens. But that’s farming! Our main business of shipping chile pepper plants continues to flourish. I continue to grow more and more chiles and have been the fortunate recipient of many non hybrid chile pepper seeds, expanding my chile seed bank to over 2100 varieties. I am more dedicated than ever to preserving chile pepper biodiversity.

Green City Growers: We're continuing to convert underutilized spaces into biodiverse food production landscapes throughout MA, and we have recently expanded to offer services throughout the Northeast US. We now run a rooftop farm on top of Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, and a kitchen garden for The Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Center, along with our 100+ sites at schools, businesses, restaurants, and housing complexes. We employ 25 individuals and are continuing to grow.

Love & Carrots: Now I have a staff of 17, a 3-acre head quarters, and we've expanded into commercial and multi-family home markets including roof top farms. We are the gardeners behind dozens of top DC restaurants. We have installed close to 1,000 garden and counting.

Green Business Network Recommendations

More from the Blog