David, Ginger, Dan and Theresa Podoll, of Prairie Road Organic Farm and Seed, Fullerton, N.D., are the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service's 2014 Organic Farmers of the Year.
The Podolls are ideal representatives of the organic movement, says Faye Jones, MOSES executive director.
"Organic farming is about stewardship," she says. The Podolls showcase the values integrated in certified organic production: stewardship of soil, water and other natural resources while supporting diversity in both crops and the wild."
Certified organic since 1977, Prairie Road Organic Farm encompasses 480 acres dedicated to small grains and regional organic vegetable variety seed production. Through Prairie Road Organic Seed, the Podolls offer triticale, hair vetch and buckwheat seed and 27 varieties of vegetable seed.
In both the grain and vegetable enterprises, the Podolls focus on harvesting the best and planting back generation after generation to produce varieties that are enduring and specifically adapted to the Northern Plains. They select plants that thrive in planting and pollination windows that prevent cross-pollination with GMO crops.
The Podolls are founding members of the Northern Plains Farm Breeding Club. They work with plant breeders to develop varieties well suited to organic production, to increase diversity in rotations and to expand the use of regionally relevant seeds.
"Farming must be an artful venture," David says. "Seeds are a sacred thing. Everything we have now is built on farmers selecting seeds for millennia. All of that genetic diversity is a great gift. Seeds should not be owned, patented, or controlled."
MOSES is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable and organic agriculture through trainings, workshops, educational initiatives.