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SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CA -- Earthbound Farm 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, Ms. Ante has devoted the last 13 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, Mr. Hope will lead the Earthbound Farm produce sales team. He 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, Ms. Ante has been a popular mentor to young people in the organic produce world. Recently she's expanded this role, becoming an adjunct professor in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, teaching a senior-level course in fresh fruit and vegetable marketing. To honor Ms. Ante's career, Earthbound Farm will award a $5,000 scholarship to a young woman studying at the college who is pursuing studies in some aspect of organic agriculture.

"It has been such an amazing journey here at Earthbound Farm," Ms. Antle said in a July 21 press release. "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."

Ms. Ante joined Earthbound Farm, the country's leading producer of organic salads, fruits and vegetables, as vice president of 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 a niche item.

An active leader in the organic movement since 1983, she has been a respected spokesperson and effective advocate for the organic industry, the release noted. Her extensive experience and insight have 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, Ms. Antle was presented with the prestigious Women in Produce Award of Excellence by the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association. She also served as a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Department of Agricultre's Advisory Board on Research, Education & 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," Earthbound Farm co- founder Drew Goodman said in the release. "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."

Charles Sweat, the company’s president and chief executive officer, added in the release, "I am grateful to Tonya for her important contributions to Earthbound Farm's success. 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."