Joseph Gallo Farms, maker of Joseph Farms Cheese, was awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its sustainable farming and cheese making at a ceremony held Jan. 22 in Sacramento, Calif.

The award, known as the GEELA, is California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor. It recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses for their exceptional leadership in voluntary achievements that help conserve California’s resources, protect and enhance the environment and build public-private partnerships.

The farm’s biogas digester turns methane into power to run the cheese-making operation, and it reclaims and reuses 100 percent of the effluent in a closed system. The third-generation family farm has pioneered investments in renewable energy, which have played a crucial role in allowing the family to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, better preserve the natural environment and maximize economic health. Joseph Gallo Farms was able to create hundreds of new jobs during the recession, Gallo noted.