Tipi Produce Named Farmers of the Year at MOSES

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The Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) kicked off their 27th annual Organic Farming Conference on February 25th. The conference is the largest event in the U.S. about organic and sustainable farming, with over 3,600 people attending this year. Jane Shey, OFRF's Policy Associate, and Board Member, Klaas Martens, were there.

Steve Pincus and Beth Kazmar of Tipi Produce were named Farmers of the Year. They have been certified organic farmers since 1994.On their farm, located outside of Evansville, Wisconsin, they use cover crops extensively to increase organic matter and strengthen fertility and soil biology on their farm. Some of their crops include carrots, melons, pepper and zucchini. They sell 45% of their products through a CSA and 55% to wholesale markets.

“Learning from other farmers, relying on that community, has been critical to our success,” Beth said. They both said, “This is not something we have done alone, we are part of a bigger movement.”

Eric Mader of the Xerces Society gave the keynote address on the first day of the conference. One of the points he made was that farmers who care about the land have the ability to not only produce good food for their customers, but to also produce value for customers through conservation work on their farms. This includes pollinator strips, buffer strips near streams, and hedgerows. "Organic farms are our last best hope for wildlife," said Mader.

Martens provided an overview of the top research priorities for organic farmers, as identified in three groundbreaking reports recently completed by OFRF: the National Organic Research Agenda (NORA), a survey of over 1,000 organic farmers and ranchers; Impacts of OFRF Grants 2006-2014; and a review and assessmentof USDA-funded research.

Martens also discussed OFRF-proposed recommendations to the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including the expansion of USDA-funded research focused on current priority issues for organic farmers. According to the NORA, the top issues for organic farmers are soil health, with survey respondents requesting more research on reduced tillage, cover crops, weed control and crop rotation. Marten wrapped up his presentation by talking about his own on-farm research and taking questions.

MOSES is a nonprofit organization based in Spring Valley, Wisconsin that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture by providing the education, resources and expertise farmers need to succeed.

View the event program here.