Spring Valley group helping farmers plow way to organic farming
SPRING VALLEY --- With the present state of farming compared to what it was 10 years ago --- heck, even five years ago --- a Spring Valley organization is there to give farmers a second chance.
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) was created to "help agriculture make the transition to a sustainable organic system of farming that is ecologically sound, economically viable and socially just through information, education, research and integrating the broader community into this effort," according to its web site, .
MOSES, which has been in business for about the last six to seven years, was initially formed with the purpose of organizing the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, which is held every February in La Crosse.
However, as Executive Director Faye Jones explained, the interest in organic farming has increased rapidly to the point in which organizing that conference is now only part of their description.
"We like to let people know," Jones said. "We're filling a need for farmers who are looking for information."
Jones listed the three biggest reasons why organic farming has taken off. The first is farmers will get an increased pay price for their product, followed by it's an added benefit protecting their farm, water and environment. Finally, organic farming is a high demand, incredible premium market, as evident by the increase of space grocery stores are giving to organic foods.
It's risen to the point Wisconsin is now second in organic farming in the country behind California. The popularity of the conference is a determining factor in that figure as, 17 years ago, when it was first held, only 90 people showed up. The 2006 edition had over 2,200.
"People are more interested in where their foods are coming from so they can get the best price," Jones said.
An example of MOSES spreading the word about organic farming is the upcoming Organic Production and Certification Workshop for Vegetable and Berry Growers to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Agricultural Service and Education Center, located on Hwy. 63 in Baldwin.
The goal of the workshop is for vegetable and berry growers interested in learning organic production techniques and how to become certified organic by USDA standards.
There are only 35 seats available, so registration is on a first come, first serve basis.
"It's really fun to work in organic agriculture," Jones added. "The people are upbeat, positive and excited about what they're doing."