Walnut grower Russ Lester, center, received the Environmental Protection Agency's 2012 Sustainable Agricultural Champion Award.
Walnut grower Russ Lester, center, received the Environmental Protection Agency's 2012 Sustainable Agricultural Champion Award.

Russ Lester, a Winters, Calif., walnut grower, was honored recently by the Environmental Protection Agency for the sustainable practices he uses in his orchard and in packing.

Lester, owner of Dixon Ridge Farms, received the EPA Pacific Region's 2012 Sustainable Agricultural Champion Award, according to a news release.

The farm practices low- or no-till cultivating, reducing air emissions and use of fossil fuels.

Composted manure, chipped walnut prunings, cover cropping and integrated pest management practices reduce inputs.

The organic grower uses no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Lester uses walnut shells to generate biogas, which offsets the farm's electricity and propane needs.

In addition, 3,500 squuare feet of photovoltaic rooftop solar panels generate electricity, with an expansion planned.

Instead of the industry standard bleach board boxes, Lester uses 100 percent recycled paper kraft board.

Not only have the sustainable practices allowed Lester to reduce the farm's carbon footprint, but they've allowed him to remain profitable, according to the release.