For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Curt Zimmerman, Communications Coordinator, 651-296-6456
Meg Moynihan, Organic and Diversification Specialist,
St. Paul, Minn. - For the second year in a row, a Minnesota
farm family has won the prestigious Organic Farmer of
the Year award from Midwest Organic and Sustainable
Education Services (MOSES), a nonprofit educational
This year's award was presented to Carmen and Sally
Fernholz, of Madison, at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming
Conference. With annual attendance of more than 1,750
people, it is the nation's largest organic farming conference.
The Fernholz family was recognized for their commitment
to organic practices and contribution to organic research,
marketing, and education.
With retail sales of organic food growing at 20 percent
per year, the Fernholzes are part of a rapidly growing
sector of the food industry.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Commissioner
Gene Hugoson praised the Fernholzes as organic pioneers.
"We congratulate Carmen and Sally for receiving
this honor," Commissioner Hugoson said. "Their
commitment to innovation in organic agriculture, strengthening
markets, and sharing their wisdom with other farmers
makes them true Minnesota agricultural leaders."
The Fernholzes have been organic producers for more
than 30 years.
They grow corn, soybeans, legumes, and a variety of
small grains including oats, barley, and golden flax
on their 360 tillable acres.
They also partner in a conventional hog operation. Minnesota
has more than four hundred organic producers.
Carmen has participated in a number of research projects
with the MDA, the University of Minnesota Southwest
Research and Outreach Center, and the Pennsylvania-based
Rodale Institute. He is currently involved in an eight-year
study to determine more effective management practices
for Canada thistle using GPS-mapping and biological
control with bacteria.
Carmen is also a founding member and vice-president
of the Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing
(OFARM), an organization that coordinates the efforts
of producer marketing groups to benefit and sustain
A respected and engaging speaker on organic farming,
Carmen has given numerous talks to members of the Minnesota
Organic Farmers' Information Exchange (MOFIE) Mentor
Hotline, an innovative network of 22 experienced organic
farmers who answer questions about organic production,
certification and marketing from curious or transitioning
farmers. The service is free and available at http://mofie.coafes.umn.edu.