Laverne and Arlene Nelson and their family are hosting an organic field day Thursday, July 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Flavor Ridge Farm near Altura.
The free organic dairy farm tour is sponsored by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service and CROPP/Organic Valley.
The farm tour provides a unique opportunity to see a successful multi-generational organic dairy farm. The Nelsons switched from a conventional to an organic operation in 2001. They have expanded the farm's infrastructure, cropland and pastures to allow the next generation—their son, Ross, and his wife, Tiffany—to join their operation.
In addition to showcasing the farm's many expansions and improvements, the Nelsons will talk about how organic farmers can be a catalyst to encourage other farmers to make the transition to organic production. They'll also discuss their planning process, their business arrangement, financial considerations and the implementation of these changes to their farm. There will be a walking tour of the farm to take a close look at their facilities, pastures, dairy herd, crops and soils. MOSES and CROPP/Organic Valley will have staff on site to provide advice and educational materials about organic production and marketing opportunities.
The Nelsons own 360 acres that have been in the family since 1958. They transitioned a neighbor's farm in 2002, adding 37 tillable acres they currently rent. They are now in the 3rd year of transition for another local rental farm, which will add another 150 acres of tillable land. The land rentals have allowed them to become feed self-sufficient and to convert some of their tillable acres on the home farm to pasture, a requirement for organic production. In addition to organic dairy production, the Nelsons direct market broilers and eggs from a small flock and meat from their beef herd.
Laverne, Arlene, Ross and Tiffany Nelson are joint contributors to Nelson's Organic Dairy LLC. Ross is the youngest of Laverne and Arlene's five children, and has farmed with his parents his entire life. After finishing technical school and a few off-farm jobs, Ross expressed interest in joining his parents as a partner in the dairy. Ross wanted to farm, and told them he would do so if they "went organic." Laverne and Arlene both came from conventional dairy farming backgrounds. They started looking at alternative farming practices in the late 1980s. They joined their local sustainable farming group and later attended MOSES Organic Farming Conferences. They are very happy with their decision to "go organic" and believe that organic is the best way to keep the soil alive, healthy and vibrant, and the best way to protect everyone's health while providing the opportunity for the next generation to do the same.
MOSES is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education to farmers to encourage sustainable and organic production practices. MOSES Organic Field Days give farmers the chance to learn from experienced peers while fostering connections within the organic farming community. Field Days are just one of the many services, resources and projects MOSES provides to farmers. To learn more, visit www.mosesorganic.org.
To register for and get directions to this MOSES Organic Dairy Farm Tour, call 715-778-5775, email [email protected], or go to http://mosesorganic.org/fd.html. Registration ensures there will be enough handouts and refreshments, however, walk-in participants are welcome.