Minnesotans selected as 2005 Organic Farmers of the Year
Co-sponsor New Farm is on hand to present the award

By Author

News Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Curt Zimmerman, Communications Coordinator, 651-296-6456
Meg Moynihan, Organic and Diversification Specialist, 651-297-8916


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 organization.

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 organic producers.

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.

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