Congratulations to Heidi Kühn of Roots of Peace, Winner of the 2023 World Food Prize
After fleeing the restrictive regime controlling his country in 1954, Mike Grgich never expected to be afforded the opportunity to return to the land he’d called home in his youth. When Croatia became an independent country and he could finally have the homecoming he’d desired for years, a dismal scene awaited him. The war had taken a toll on Croatia, and the threat of future casualties still loomed as thousands of unexploded landmines still lay dormant in the soil.
These landmines, each easily set off by the weight of a child, occupied over 5,000 square miles of Croatia – in farmlands or on roads, near schools or hospitals – meaning a simple trip to the store could instantly become a life-threatening situation. As he returned to the United States, the hazardous state of his homeland would not leave his mind, and he was determined to make a change.
Mike first met Heidi Kühn when her eminent non-profit, Roots of Peace, was in its infancy – a handful of industrious humanitarians with a dream: to remove landmines worldwide, putting vines and other crops in their place. Heidi felt Croatia was an ideal initial location to begin her work, seeking out the famed Croatian-born winemaker in Napa Valley for support. Mike was elated to team up to rehabilitate his homeland, and in 2000, the pair flew to Croatia to survey the land that would be Roots of Peace’s first project on their road to a mine-free world.
Since then, Roots of Peace’s operation has expanded exponentially, effecting change in countries all over the world, and Grgich Hills has been one of the organization’s most enduring supporters. One can’t help but wonder if Mike or Heidi knew just how far-reaching and impactful the mission that started with “turning mines to vines” would be. Decades later, Heidi’s work has burgeoned into an operation truly deserving of her most recent accomplishment: She has been awarded the 2023 World Food Prize. Congratulations to Heidi Kühn and everyone at Roots of Peace for this achievement; we at Grgich Hills are incredibly grateful to have been a part of this ongoing journey for peace.