SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif., (July 21, 2010) – Earthbound Farm, the country's leading producer of organic salads, fruits, and vegetables, has announced that Tonya Antle is retiring from the company at the end of 2010. An organic trailblazer with nearly 30 years dedicated to selling organic produce, Tonya has devoted the last thirteen years of her career to helping build the Earthbound Farm brand through marketing and sales. The company recently hired Craig Hope in the newly established position of Chief Customer Officer. With extensive executive experience developing and leading strategic customer teams in well-established and highly entrepreneurial environments, Hope will lead the Earthbound Farm produce sales team. Hope is also charged with developing new sales teams to execute go-to-market strategies in categories outside the produce aisle.
In addition to her sales and marketing achievements, Tonya has been a popular mentor to young people in the organic produce world and, recently, she's expanded this role, becoming an adjunct professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, teaching a senior level course in Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Marketing. To honor Tonya's career, Earthbound Farm will award a $5,000 scholarship to a young woman studying at CAFES, who is pursuing studies in some aspect of organic agriculture.
"It has been such an amazing journey here at Earthbound Farm," said Antle. "I am so proud to have been a part of the collaboration of truly talented and innovative people, all with a commitment to bring the benefits of organic food to as many people as possible. It's now time to pay forward all my great experiences by teaching, coaching and mentoring the next generation of produce talent. That's the inspiration for my next phase."
Tonya joined Earthbound Farm as vice president, organic sales in 1998 and played a key role in providing education about the organic category and its shoppers to retail and foodservice customers, at a time when organic produce was seen as niche. An active leader in the organic movement since 1983, she has been a respected spokesperson and effective advocate for the organic industry. Her extensive experience and insight has made her a sought-after speaker and she has been featured in education programs throughout North America.
In 2003, in recognition of her pioneering spirit and dedication to the development of the organic produce category, Tonya was presented with the prestigious "Women in Produce Award of Excellence" by the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association (UFFVA). She also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the USDA's Advisory Board on Research, Education and Economics, the board of the Produce Marketing Association, and the board of the Organic Trade Association.
"Tonya was instrumental in convincing retailers that organic produce belonged on the shelf beside conventional during a time when there was much skepticism regarding the benefits of organic," said Earthbound Farm co-founder Drew Goodman. "She worked tirelessly with the rest of the early Earthbound team to prove the benefits of organic. The category would be nowhere near what it is today without the efforts of Tonya and the other early trailblazers and advocates in the organic category."
"I am grateful to Tonya for her important contributions to Earthbound Farm's success," said president and CEO Charles Sweat. "Having helped us get where we are, she is leaving our sales group in good hands with our new chief customer officer, Craig Hope. I wish Tonya continued success."
Source: Earthbound Farm