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Stemilt Growers was recognized as a 'green' company in Washington state during Seattle Business magazine’s 2010 Green Washington Awards ceremony, held Sept. 23 in Seattle.

"Washington state is well known for its environmental leadership, and even ranked third on Forbes’ list of ‘greenest’ states back in 2007. Stemilt is honored to be recognized for a third-straight year as a leader in sustainability in a state with such high environmental expectations of its companies and citizens," Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, WA-based Stemilt Growers, said in an Oct. 11 press release.

Stemilt came out on top of the agriculture category for the Green Washington Awards in 2008 and was the runner-up last year. This year, the magazine received over 100 nominations to be spread over 12 categories.

Stemilt was recognized for its composting farm, green waste-recycling center and social responsibility efforts.

Started in 2005 by Stemilt grower-partner Kyle Mathison, the compost farm located on Stemilt Hill now encompasses 23 acres. All the green waste from Stemilt’s packing facilities and many of its orchards is taken to Mr. Mathison’s nearby compost farm, where it is regenerated into a nutrient-rich fertilizer to be used on more than 1,000 acres of apple, pear and cherry trees.

Earlier this year, Mr. Mathison took the composting operation one step further by opening the Stemilt Organic Recycling Center in Wenatchee. The center provides local businesses and community members with a low-cost option for disposing of their green waste, such as lawn clippings, tree branches and wood. The green waste that is collected at the center is taken to Stemilt Hill to be made into compost.

“Compost boosts the nutritional balance of the soil, which helps strengthen the trees’ natural defense systems,” Mr. Mathison added in the press release. On the social side, Stemilt was recognized for providing employees with access to a free on-site health clinic. Stemilt’s health clinic opened in March and was initially open three days per week. It has since expanded to five days in order to fulfill the demand for appointments.

These and other initiatives are part of Stemilt’s longtime sustainability and social responsibility program, called Responsible Choice, that Stemilt founder Tom Mathison started in 1989.