Organic Valley Recognizes the Next Generation of Organic Farmers
Trio of Young Farmer-Owners Recognized with Gen-O Award in Three Regions
In celebration of its growing network of fresh-faced farmers, Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers, has honored three of its youngest with Generation Organic (Gen-O) awards. Generation Organic is what Organic Valley calls its young organic farmers, aged 16 to 35, who represent a new generation of sustainable agriculture leaders and who believe in the power of organic agriculture to change the world. The Gen-O Award was presented to the young farmers at the cooperative’s Annual Meeting, held earlier this month in La Crosse, Wis.
The Gen-O Awards were created in 2008 to recognize individual young Organic Valley farmers who have chosen organic farming as a career path, demonstrated an outstanding commitment to organics, and are preserving the family farm and rural community through leadership, stewardship and innovation.
One young farmer from each of the western, central and eastern regions was awarded $1,000 to further their farm development and leadership. The winners also received an all expense paid trip to attend the 2011 Annual Meeting, where they met with Organic Valley leadership, attended workshops and participated in Gen-O activities. Finally, Organic Valley will also donate $500 to a non-profit of each of the winners’ choice.
“Organic Valley provides a stable support network for the betterment of all involved in our cooperative, from farming veterans to those just off a college campus,” said George Siemon, one of the founding farmers and C-E-I-E-I-O for Organic Valley. “As we look to the future, it is vitally important that we support the farmers of tomorrow who will carry on the organic tradition. Our Generation Organic award winners represent a new crop of farmers and sustainable agriculture leaders, and we are proud that they are part of our co-op.”
According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, America has lost approximately 4.5 million farms since 1935, and most of the 2.1 million farms that remain are operated by farmers with an average age of 57. In contrast, the average age of Organic Valley farmer is 44. For more information on Generation Organic, visit http://www.organicvalley.coop/GenerationOrganic.
Recognized during a special presentation on April 8, the three winners were:
- T. Garin and Sarah Smith of Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, Maine (East)
- James Frantzen of Frantzen Farm in Elma, Iowa (Central)
- Ross Bansen of Double J Jerseys in Monmouth, Ore. (West)