Three organic stand-outs receive Leadership Awards

This year’s award honorees are:

Israel Morales Sr., JV Farms Organic, Organic Farmer of the Year Award

Israel Morales Sr. is JV Farms Organic’s lead grower with over 40 years of farming experience. JV Farms Organic in Soledad, CA, is committed to growing organic crops in an innovative and eco-friendly manner. Israel has extensive experience not just in knowing what produce matches the type of soil, but also other factors important to soil health. As ranch manager, he has direct influence on the growing practices on all of the acres in his operation. Described by peers as living and breathing organic farming, he has both an old-school mentality on how to grow organically while also a flare for innovation. A successful large-scale organic farmer, he is known as an excellent steward of land, minimizing disturbance, maximizing soil cover, maximizing biodiversity, and maximizing the presence of living roots. His primary focus is soil health, habitat diversity and reducing or eliminating organic pesticide use if he can. He has developed an innovative farming system using conservation tillage beds that allows him to use cover crops on 80 to 90 percent of his acreage during the winter fallow.

Lynn Coody, Organic Agsystems Consulting, Growing the Organic Community Award

Lynn Coody of Eugene, Oregon, has been active as a crucial voice on the organic front since the 1970s. First serving as general manager of an organic farm, in the ensuing decades she has provided invaluable technical assistance to growers, certifiers, producers and regulatory agencies at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. She was one of a three-person team who guided the development and passage of Oregon’s ground-breaking Organic Food Law in the late 1980s. Based on that experience, she served as technical advisor to Kathleen Merrigan (Aide to Senate Patrick Leahy) during the drafting of the federal Organic Foods Production Act and to Representative Peter DeFazio’s staff on the House version. She has been principal consultant at Organic Agsystems Consulting—her own technical assistance firm—since 1982, focusing primarily on education, standards development, management of quality systems for organic certification, advocacy and research. Described by peers as possessing vision, courage and know-how as a deft facilitator and leader, she is seen as a core expert who provides careful thought based on values of integrity and transparency, as well as good science, while always advocating for organic family farmers.

Nate Powell-Palm, Cold Spring Organics, Rising Star Award

Nate Powell-Palm started farming when he was just 12 years old as part of a 4-H project, and used grants and other opportunities to develop and expand his cattle operation in Bozeman, MT. Raising livestock according to organic standards, he applied for certification while still in high school. During college, he completed IOIA training, and started working as an organic inspector. Since graduation, he has expanded the farm into crop production while also growing his cattle enterprise. A Farmstead member of the Organic Trade Association through Montana Organic Association (MOA), he has been a regular participant in the trade association’s Policy Days, and is an effective spokesperson for organic agriculture in D.C. He is under age 30, and already has more than 15 years’ experience with organic production. This past April, he provided testimony regarding the economic opportunities for farmers through sustainable agricultural practices before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration, and related agencies. He has already proven to be a leader in organic agriculture, not just in Montana but on a broader national stage.

 The Organic Trade Association’s Annual Organic Leadership Award was established in 1997. Awardees are nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by the association’s Board of Directors. //