Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service: Field days highlight organic, sustainable farming practices

Contact: Audrey Alwell

715-778-5775 | [email protected]

SPRING VALLEY, WIS – The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) offers six field days this summer to give farmers the chance to see how organic farming works. Many of these field days take place on farms currently growing cover crops. Host farms are located in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. While most of the events are free, some have a fee for lunch or a workshop. Registration is available online at mosesorganic.org or 715-778-5775.

Organic field day schedule:

Janie’s Farm, 854E 2300 North Road, Danforth, IL 60930

Friday, June 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Harold Wilken and his son, Ross, farm 2,300 acres with corn, beans, wheat and red clover or alfalfa. Pumpkins, oats and ancient grains, such as emmer and einkorn, are also part of the mix. Wilken will share how he transitioned fields to organic, plus discuss crop rotation, seed selection, weed control, and business aspects of the farm. Representatives from the University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Organic Growers Association, the Land Connection, Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network and MOSES also will be available to answer questions. Lunch is available for $10 with registration.

Ash Grove Farm, 850 Mallory Drive, Hampton, IA 50441

Tuesday, July 7 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Doug Alert and Margaret Smith grow corn and soybeans for organic feed; soybeans, rye and oats for organic seed; and hay. They also run a cow herd and market calves through conventional markets. They have used cover crops for years, and have been experimenting with ways to terminate a cover crop without tilling. They’ll show field results from using a modified rolling cornstalk chopper to crimp and terminate hairy vetch before corn, and cereal rye before soybeans. Also view a field in its first year of transition to organic, and non-winter hardy cover crops (Southern Belle red clover and crimson clover) in oats.

Sweet Springs Farm, 43299 Patton Road, Gays Mills, WI 54631

Tuesday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Harriet Behar and her husband, Aaron Brin, have a 216-acre certified organic farm where they grow a variety of vegetables for the wholesale and retail markets and sell bedding plants directly to growers. They have years of experience growing various cover crops to improve the soil. Their fields feature both standard and unusual cover crops. They also have vegetable fields with living mulches and rolled rye mulch. This event includes lunch provided by MOSES and Organic Valley.

Christensen Farm, N2755 County Road M, Browntown, WI 53522

Friday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This event is an In Her Boots workshop with presentations offered through the MOSES Rural Women’s Project. Farmer Katy Dickson has a highly diversified operation with over 80 varieties of vegetables along with raspberries, strawberries, currants, rhubarb, eggs and honey. Morning workshops will cover managing a CSA, growing cover crops for specific benefits, creating a family-friendly operation, and buying affordable equipment. Lunch is provided by MOSES and Organic Valley. The afternoon includes a tour of the growing fields, cover crops, hoophouses and packing system. This event kicks off the Soil Sisters weekend, a celebration of local farms run by women. Soil Sisters activities include hands-on workshops, food samples, craft and canning demos, and farm tours. For details, see www.soilsisterswi.org.

Standard Process Farm Headquarters, W1806 Highway 59, Palmyra, WI 53156

Thursday, Sept. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Standard Process grows the pure ingredients for its whole food supplements on a 450-acre certified organic farm between Madison and Milwaukee. The farm’s crops include alfalfa, barley grass, beets, Brussel sprouts, buckwheat, kale, kidney beans, oats, pea vine, Spanish black radish, and sweet potatoes. Christine Mason has been the farm’s operations manager since 2001, helping the farm grow to be one of the state’s largest organic vegetable farms. She’ll explain how the farm uses cover crops to enhance vegetable production, organic weed control, and on-farm composting.

Riverbend Farm, 5405 Calder Avenue SE, Delano, MN 55328

Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Greg and Mary Reynolds are the 2015 MOSES Organic Farmers of the Year. They own and operate Riverbend Farm where they grow vegetables and small grains on 30 acres that have been certified organic since 1994. They grow about 10 acres of vegetables in a four-year rotation with cover crops, such as mixes of oats with peas, rye with vetch, and yellow sweet clover. They don’t use manure, but will occasionally apply compost, bringing in new nutrients. Their markets include an 84-share CSA and wholesale accounts with Twin Cities’ restaurants, food co-ops, nursing homes, hospitals and schools. They will talk about fresh market organic vegetables, seed production and saving, farming efficiency, and soil health.

MOSES is a nonprofit organization that provides training, resources and practical advice to help farmers succeed in sustainable and organic farming. MOSES’ field days are free, except for the day-long In Her Boots workshop, which costs $50. Register online at mosesorganic.org or call 715-778-5775.