Each year for the last five we have recognized extraordinary Mainers, Maine businesses and Maine nonprofits for their contributions to our state’s environment with a Source Maine Sustainability Award.

And beautiful as that environment is, pristine as it often looks when we travel the state and think what lucky devils we are to live here, Maine is threatened by many of the same dire environmental problems as the rest of the world: A very partial list includes climate change, fast-warming oceans, plastics pollution and critically endangered animals.

We’ve singled out seven winners this year, and they are a remarkable group, helping to keep the ocean (and its islands) clean; to reuse rather than toss out; to evangelize for organic farming; to help local food entrepreneurs navigate the law; to turn sterile monoculture lawns into edible buffets; to green Maine’s thriving craft beer industry; and to recruit everybody to help Mother Earth, no matter the color of their skin. In this section, and in honor of Earth Day on Monday, we celebrate their engagement and achievements.

You’ll also encounter our Russell Libby Scholarship award winners here. Awarded in partnership with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, these scholars excite us because they hint at Maine’s bright (sustainably lit) future. We hope you’ll join us at 5:30 p.m. on May 1,, at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester to make it official. You can get tickets for the Fifth Annual Source Awards here: pressherald.com/2019/03/22/5th-annual-source-maine-sustainability-awards/. To walk the talk, we’ll be powering the event with green energy from the Maine Green Power Program. They tell us we’ve reduced the evening’s carbon footprint by 900 pounds, “which is similar to growing trees for 10 years.” (And look for locally provisioned food, too.)

As we’ve found in previous years, narrowing the nominations – we received more than 110 – was a tough job, requiring hours of deliberations. And as in past years, Mainers’ commitment to tackling environmental problems large and small impressed us no end. Nominations touched on vegan eating and vermiculture, land conservation and local food, energy use and invasives eradication, and far more than we have space to elaborate on here. There may be environmental inaction, or worse, in Washington, but there is plenty of action in Maine.

A romantic aside we just can’t help ourselves from mentioning: One nominator put forward the leader of a summer camp program that teaches children “about the value of making smart choices with food, how to grow their own food and how to find happiness and enjoyment from farming in a sustainable and organic way.” We won’t identify the nominee, but you know who you are. And though she did not win a 2019 Source Award, she may have won a bigger prize. To quote the nominator: “My belief in her and what she is doing is so profound and deeply rooted that I recently asked her to marry me and she said yes.” Congratulations! (And should you need advice on holding a green wedding, you can find it in the Press Herald.)

Something that struck us about our 2019 winners is how many of them declined to focus solely on their own work. They deflected praise and congratulations. They mentioned others who are deserving. They recognized that averting, or at least ameliorating, environmental catastrophe will take all of us. In the succinct and beautiful words of Harvard Pilgrim Foundation’s Healthy Food Champion Nyaruot Nguany, “This is an everyone problem. We all have to work together.”

Peggy Grodinsky, Source/Food Editor

 


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