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Surry, ME - September 22, 2009 - Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), a Maine-based non profit that provides Central American farming families with the tools and training to overcome poverty while restoring our planet's tropical forests, has received Charity Navigator's highest four star rating for the fourth year in a row, an achievement shared with only 7 percent of the charities rated nationwide. 

This rating, which SHI has received each year it was evaluated, indicates that it "consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America," says Trent Stamp, President of Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org), one of the nation's largest independent charity evaluators.  "This 'exceptional' designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Sustainable Harvest International from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust," he concludes.

In Maine, 15 non profit organizations received the 4 star rating from Charity Navigator, but only 4 of them, including SHI,  have received it for four consecutive years.  They are:  Maine Community Foundation, Preble Street, and Safe Passage, which, besides SHI, is the only other charity falling within the international category.  Only two organizations on the list have received 5 consecutive 4 star ratings:  Camp Sunshine and Maine Sea Coast Vision, and only Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory has received 6 consecutive 4 star ratings.   

The annual rating, which is designed to help Charity Navigator meet its mission of guiding "intelligent giving," is based on two broad areas of a charity's financial health:  organizational efficiency and organizational capacity, or, how responsibly a charity functions day to day, and how well positioned it is to sustain its programs over time.  The charity is then awarded an overall rating, ranging from zero to four stars, with four stars being the highest rating.  Only 501(c) (3) organizations, which are considered public charities, meaning that all donations to them are tax-exempt, are evaluated.

Last year SHI ranked among just 10% of all charities rated nationwide that had received 3 consecutive 4- star evaluations, according to Charity Navigator.   Prestigious ratings like these are all the more important today, as the economy poses problems for people and organizations alike, and non profits in particular.  

Says Florence Reed, Founder and President of SHI, "We are very proud that we have maintained our outstanding rating over the years.  With an exceptional score in organizational efficiency and low overhead, we spend just 8% of our budget on administration.     This rating is particularly important to us at this time, given the overall climate of economic uncertainty.   We hope to continue to merit Charity Navigator's exceptional rating for years to come."


To find out more about SHI, go to their web site at http://www.sustainableharvest.org

For further information, contact:
Sarah Kennedy
Outreach Director
919-967-3662
sarah@sustainableharvest.org.

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About Sustainable Harvest International: SHI was founded in 1997 by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Florence Reed. Since its inception, the 501 (c) (3) non profit organization has planted more than 2.3 million trees, converted 9,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 45,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction, and improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 4700 organic vegetable gardens.

About Charity Navigator:
Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator is one of the nation's largest independent evaluator of charities. Since its inception, it has assessed the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best known charities. A 501 (c) (3) non profit organization itself, it depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations to provide what it believes is a much-needed service to America's charitable givers.



Surry, ME - September 22, 2009 - What do Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Florence Reed have in common?

They are all Americans who have spoken the truth.

And they are all featured in Robert Shetterly's series Americans Who Tell the Truth, http://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/,  a collection of portraits and quotes of those who have helped to make America strong.  Shetterly, a Brooksville, ME-based artist, recently added Reed to his collection because of her work with Central American farming families; as the Founder and President of Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), Reed has been working to lift them out of poverty and restore the planet's tropical forests since 1997.   When asked why she has committed her self to her decades-long mission, she explains in the quote that accompanies her image:  "A farmer in a remote village in Honduras is providing us with organic coffee, providing winter habitat for our song birds, stabilizing our global climate, preserving the forests that are the source of most of our medicines, creating oxygen to breathe and protecting the coral reefs from siltation as a result of deforestation.  So if a poor farmer in Honduras can do all this for us, what can we do for him?"

Shetterly is hoping his inclusion of Reed will draw more attention to her cause.  "I chose to paint Flo because I think her work is right at the intersection of the food, environmental, climate change, and economic exploitation problems. She does not simply describe a problem but implements a solution. And her solution has both local and global ramifications," he says.  "All the issues around food ---- health, local autonomy, pollution, pesticides, deforestation, climate change, transportation, soil loss, poverty, malnutrition, economic imperialism, etc., are key issues that we must solve if we are going to live sustainably."

Apparently, his plan is working.  Before the paint on his acrylic painting was dry, Reed's portrait  was selected to be part of an upcoming show at Bar Harbor, ME's College of the Atlantic (COA):  "Food for Thought, Time for Action: Sustainable food, farming and fisheries for the 21st century."   http://www.coa.edu/html/foodsystemsconference09.htm   Organized by Maine Farmland Trust, and running from October 2nd through 4th, the show is designed to bring together a diverse range of practitioners, farmers, fishermen and scholars to discuss current issues and chart a course toward a sustainable future.  Reed's portrait will share the stage with Alice Waters' portrait, another one of Shetterly's subjects.   Anna Witholt Abaldo, Gallery Coordinator for Maine Farmland Trust, thought Shetterly's portraits could help make a link between the cause and those who dedicate their lives to it.  Both Waters and Reed were chosen for their major contributions to food and sustainability; Reed's ties to Maine also help to make her a particularly relevant choice, says Abaldo.   
Shetterly began painting this series of portraits several years ago as a way to channel his anger and grief after the events of September 11.   The process of painting these "truth tellers" helped transform those emotions into pride and hope, he says on his web site.  Reed admits to being a long time admirer of Shetterly and his work, and is honored to be included in his series.    "I hope that together we expand peoples understanding that we can all have a role, big or small, in making the world a better place."

For more information on SHI and Florence Reed, please contact:
Sarah Kennedy
Outreach Director
919-967-3662
sarah@sustainableharvest org

For more information on Food for Thought, Time for Action Conference, please contact:
Heather Albert-Knopp
Sustainable Food Systems Program Administrator
207-288-5015
halbert-knopp@coa.edu

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About Florence Reed and Sustainable Harvest International: SHI was founded in 1997 by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Florence Reed. Since its inception, the non profit organization has planted more than 2.3 million trees, converted 9,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 45,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction, and improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 4700 organic vegetable gardens.

About Robert Shetterly: "Americans Who Tell the Truth" is a series of portraits by Brooksville, ME based artist Robert Shetterly. His portraits of past and current Americans form a traveling exhibit that is hosted by schools, universities, churches, and various community groups around the country.

"A farmer in a remote village in Honduras is providing us with organic coffee,
providing winter habitat for our song birds, stabilizing our global climate,
preserving the forests that are the source of most of our medicines,
creating oxygen to breathe and protecting the coral reefs
from siltation as a result of deforestation.
So if a poor farmer in Honduras can do all this for us, what can we do for him?"

- Florence Reed, Founder & President of Sustainable Harvest International

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"I just returned from a 10-day trip to Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International. That small organization with a relatively small staff ... is doing a fantastic job helping the rural areas of Honduras diversify crops and re-forest the denuded mountains of the country. [They] demonstrated a dedication and grasp of both the problems and possible solutions that I found worthy of Nobel prize recognition. The leadership of our Smaller World Tour by an employee of SHI was first-rate. We worked, we learned, we contributed. If there is truly a way to help the impoverished developing world, SHI holds the key."

~ Margaret, Smaller World participant & SHI Supporter