Growing Local Organic Agriculture, Together
Bea James, Director of Nourish, explains the one simple thing you can do this week to help a local dairy farm on its journey to become certified organic.
Our country’s demand for organic food continues to rise at a dramatic rate as more and more of us are seeking foods produced by organic family farmers who work in harmony with nature without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, pesticides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As demand rises, so does the need for organic farms.
Converting a farm from conventional to organic is no easy task and often presents a financial hardship to the farmers as they have to stop conventional production and work the land according to organic regulations for three years before they can become a USDA-certified organic farm.
In an effort to support farmers during the difficult transition period, we’ve partnered with Organic Valley, the nation’s largest organic farmer cooperative, to establish the Lunds & Byerlys Organic Farming Transition Grant.
The Lunds & Byerlys Organic Farming Transition Grant works like this: for every reusable bag we use to bag your groceries in April, we will make a five cent donation to our grant fund and Organic Valley will match our donation. We are hoping for 100,000 reusable bags to reach our goal of $5,000. With a dollar-for-dollar match from Organic Valley, we can give Steve Reuter and his family $10,000!
The Steve Reuter Farm is a third generation family farm. Steve’s grandparents, parents and uncle Bill have operated the 55-acre farm since 1934. The family milks about 50 cows, 35 of which are beautiful Holsteins.
On a recent visit to the farm, we got an up-close look at the farm and the Reuter family’s passion for farming in a way that respects the cows and the land. “We pasture our cows in open fields the old-fashioned way,” Steve said. “Given we were already 80 percent of the way toward organic farming it was a natural next step for us to go all the way and become a certified organic farm.”
When asked what the $10,000 Lunds & Byerlys Organic Farming Transition Grant will mean for his family’s farm, Steve said, “This will be a big help, no doubt about it. We plan to use some of the money to purchase a rotary hoe to help with growing organic corn to feed the cows. It will also help us build more fencing to expand the space for our cows to be on pasture and it will help offset some of the organic certification fees.”
The Lunds & Byerlys Organic Farming Transition Grant will help grow the organic landscape in the Midwest by providing the necessary support our local farmers need to be certified organic. We are grateful to partner with Organic Valley in this effort, and overjoyed to be able to support our local farmers.