The Iowa Organic Association traveled across the state last week and delivered a successful first round of the “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshop series. IOA staff, consultants and partners presented to over 65 participants which included NRCS, FSA, bank lenders, crop insurance consultants and seasoned and prospective farmers who were interested in learning more about the organic industry and opportunities for organic growth in Iowa.
Participants and presenters contributed to a well-rounded discussion about organic. Ben Bowell, with Oregon Tilth/NRCS, covered the National Organic Program, certification, organic standards and guidelines, and organic production systems. Kathleen Delate, Ph.D. with Iowa State University presented her research that demonstrates how organic production improves soil health, delivers competitive yields and creates greater opportunities for organic production in Iowa. At each workshop, a panel of local, organic farmers discussed their transition experience, certification process, organic production systems, challenges and successes of organic farming during each workshop and concluded with an in-depth Q & A with participants.
As the organic market continues to grow, Iowa producers, landowners and businesses are looking for opportunities to participate in this movement. The interest and discussions during these workshops continue to demonstrate the potential and desire for more organic in Iowa. More organic means a higher return on production. More organic helps meet nutrient reduction goals. More organic meets domestic consumer demand. More organic boosts local economies.
IOA would like to recognize and thank the following presenters and stakeholders for their support in helping us deliver our first round of successful workshops:
Ben provided a depth of knowledge and expertise about all things organic, both with the nuts and bolts, but also in addressing a range of specific, situational questions. Thank you to Ben and Oregon Tilth for your leadership and support to help expand organic opportunities in Iowa!
Calmar: Organic farmer panel: John Lubke, Wayne Wangsness, James Hageman and Mark and Marcia Kruse.
Cedar Rapids: Scott Koepke Sugar Etzel Grove farm manager, Carl Rosier and Kristine Lang with Rodale. Thank you to the Indian Creek Nature Center for the use of their facility at no cost.
Atlantic: Kathleen Delate and Vic Madsen, Audubon County organic farmer. Sweet Joy Shoppe in Atlantic provided a lunch that included organic vegetables from Denise O’Brien at Rolling Acres Farm, as well as produce and lamb from Sweet Joy Farm, both in Atlantic. An additional special thanks to Roger Warne at the Atlantic High School for providing last-minute, much needed AV support.
Webster City: Kathleen Delate, and organic farmer panel: Roger Knutson, Dan Fehr, Margaret Smith, Rory Sterling and Ortrude Dial. And, Cindy McCollough, IOA board member and owner of Blue Stem Enterprises organic feed mill, for getting the word out and adding her organic experience to the discussion. We are grateful for the use of the Hamilton County Extension Office facility at no cost.
IOA will be delivering sixteen more Growing Organic Expertise workshops across Iowa over the next year and half – we expect our next round to take place in Jan-Feb of 2020. Sign up to our eNews or follow us on social media to keep posted about future workshops.
IOA’s “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshop training series is made possible with grant support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE).