Newswise — BRONX, NY, May 6, 2021 – Green Bronx Machine congratulates its founder Stephen Ritz who has received the 2021 Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Disruptor Award for the organization’s work during the pandemic. 

The 2021 CEA Awards, presented by Artemis, were established to recognize distinguished individuals and organizations in the controlled environment agriculture industry across North America.  They shine a light on those in the industry who have shown innovation, entrepreneurship and a commitment to sustainability, energy efficiency and community outreach.  The Disruptor Award is given to individuals for their “spirit of innovation and constant quest to disrupt the status quo in the ag industry as a whole.” 

In the last year alone, Green Bronx Machine (GBM) and Ritz have distributed more than 100,000 pounds of food, produced 5,000-plus pounds of produce grown locally in the Bronx, built and stocked three new food pantries, delivered weekly 152 backpacks of food to students and fulfilled more than 1,600 emergency food requests from families in need.  They have also trained nearly 1,500 teachers using GBM’s curriculum, impacting more than 50,000 students in the Bronx and around the world ( 

GBM friends and partners offered kudos on hearing the news. 

“In a nutshell, the reason that I nominated Stephen is because the true advancement not only of our CEA industry, but society as a whole, lies in the education of our children and future farmers,” said Joe Swartz, Vice President, AmHydro.  “Food production - from the life sciences to entrepreneurship to environmental sustainability - are all wrapped up and inextricably tied to our agricultural process and our connection to the natural world around us.  Stephen embodies that critical concept and utilizes his passion and skill not only to educate, but to inspire and support our future generations.  I couldn’t think of a better ‘change maker’ or ‘disruptor’ than Stephen.”

"Stephen is an expert in creating win-win partnerships and his enthusiasm for urban agriculture has propelled the industry forward," said Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, a pioneer in indoor, urban agriculture and long-time partner of Green Bronx Machine.  “Stephen’s curriculum engages over 50,000 students around the world each day, exposing them to the benefits of growing their own food while investing in their future, as well as their communities. Not only is Stephen cultivating a palate for the fresh produce we grow, he is also growing the next generation of indoor farmers and consumers."

“I (as one of the owners of Hort Americas) believe that our industry needs two things to continue to drive change and be successful.  We need EDUCATION and COMMUNITY,” said Chris Higgins, President and Co-Founder, Hort Americas. “Stephen, Lizette and the Green Bronx Machine easily embody both of those things.  If our next generation is well educated on the importance of mind, body and community, my job as an industry leader will be easy.”

“In my opinion there truly is no one more deserving of this prestigious award.  Stephen has a rare gift - he really sees and understands the solutions to our broken food system - and works daily to make positive changes in our world,” said Charles Platkin, Executive Director, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center which recently honored Ritz with its 2020 Changemaker Award.  “Stephen's extraordinary commitment to ensuring community members have access to affordable, safe and healthy food both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic is unparalleled.  His belief that every public school should raise healthy and successful citizens, and that students shouldn't have to leave their communities to thrive is both inspiring and impactful. His innovative spirit and drive have changed the lives of so many children and community members in the South Bronx and beyond and have the power to make nutritious food for all a built-in and not an add-on. Stephen Ritz is a true food hero!”

The 2021 CEA Award winners were selected by a prestigious, independent awards committee comprised of agriculture professionals from Artemis, Cargill, Fluence by OSRAM, and Schneider Electric. The committee received over 130 qualified nominations for the awards and selected 11 category winners and 3 honorable mention awards.

“It has been inspiring to see our industry step up through the pandemic and continue innovating in every facet of the value chain. I am privileged to honor the outstanding contributors via the 2021 CEA Awards,” said Steve Graves, Vice President of Business Development at Fluence by OSRAM and Committee Member.

“All of the winners have had a tremendous impact on our industry this past year. It’s an honor to acknowledge the work of these companies and individuals,” said Allison Kopf, CEO of Artemis and Committee Member.  

Artemis is a Cultivation Management Platform (CMP) that enables growers to manage people, plants, process, and compliance.  For more information, visit:

About Green Bronx Machine

Founded in 2011 by Global Teaching Prize finalist and life-long educator Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine (GBM) is an impact driven, for-purpose organization with 501(c)(3) status.  GBM builds healthy, equitable and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development. Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, its school-based model and propriety curriculum uses urban agriculture aligned to key school performance indicators, to grow healthy students and healthy schools.  Simultaneously, GBM also transforms once fragmented and marginalized communities into neighborhoods that are inclusive and thriving.  For more information, visit

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