Premier Mushrooms Inc. was recently named as one of the Northstate’s best when it was honored as winner of the Sustainability Innovator of the Year during the 29th annual Innovation Awards held at CSU Chico Bell Memorial Union Hall. They were also nominated as Manufacturing Innovator of the Year, Business Expansion of the Year and Innovative Public Private Partnership of the Year.
Annually, the Innovation Awards honor the region’s entrepreneurs, CEOs, industry executives, academia and government leaders together to honor the individual teams and companies which, through their outstanding achievements, have transformed their businesses and been instrumental in creating the future of our regional economy.
Members from the North State region (from Davis in the south to the Oregon border in the north) gathered on December 3 to celebrate the coveted 2013 Innovation Awards with the theme A SALUTE TO GAME CHANGING INNOVATION – because it takes unconventional thinking, keen vision and dedicated execution to create life-changing innovative solutions.
Premier CEO John Ashbaugh accepted the award on behalf of the farm and invited the farm’s Sustainability coordinator Kevin Foley who has played a major role in the sustainability progress at the farm to join him on stage
Ashbaugh noted that Premier Mushroom’s Sustainability Program began in 2010 when he realized there was opportunity at the farm and went for a tour at the Sierra Nevada Brewery who is leading the way on the sustainability front. “The tour was led by their sustainability coordinator Cheri Chastain and after much conversation; I realized that we also needed a sustainability coordinator to take Premier’s program to the next level,” said Ashbaugh.
Shortly thereafter, he hired Chico graduate Foley to spearhead the mushroom farm’s sustainability efforts. The first initiative was an integrated recycling program, which reduced the annual waste-to-landfill by 80,000 pounds in 2012. The farm now has plans to bring on three biomass generators that are run on Walnut Shells and will use the waste heat to off-set its natural gas usage. These are only a few of the initiatives to date, but it provides a solid foundation from which to continue building.
Asbaugh said that he is proud to be recognized for this achievement, but also believes that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. “We are always looking to improve our operations with an eye on sustainability,” said Ashbaugh.