Linda Halley and Richard de Wilde of Harmony Valley Farms in Viroqua, WI were named “Organic Farmers of the Year” at the 2003 Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference. Halley and de Wilde were honored in the first annual award recognizing innovation in organic farming, excellence in enhancing farm resources, and the ability to inspire others in the organic community.
Established in 1985, Harmony Valley was one of the first certified organic farms in Wisconsin, raising certified organic vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers on 70 of the farm’s 200 acres. They market directly to local and regional retailers, wholesalers, at farmers markets and through a 440-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.
Harmony Valley is a family owned, diversified farm located in an isolated valley in southwestern Wisconsin. The farm’s silt loam fields are high in organic matter, humus and biological life. They receive green cover crops, generous amounts of compost and rock powders. Vegetables are grown and harvested with care. All products are certified by the Midwest Organic Services Association.
To control pests, Harmony Valley provides perennial habitat and nesting sites to raptors, song birds, bats, wasps and beneficial insects. Their latest research involved studying disease suppressive properties of soil amended with compost. They are dedicated to organic farming and believe strongly that it produces the highest quality, best tasting food while protecting the quality of our water and wildlife. Harmony Valley hosts numerous people on tours of their farm each year.
After being a co-owner/operator of Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua for 15 years, Linda moved to Santa Barbara, California where she applied her experience developing a successful CSA and diverse certified organic vegetable farm to managing Fairview Gardens. Organized as an educational non-profit with a focus on educating future farmers and the interested public, Fairview’s mission was to be a sustainable, urban-edge resource for organic foods and community learning. The 12 acre Fairview Gardens is one Southern California’s oldest farms, now preserved through a conservation easement held by the Santa Barbara Land Trust and open to the public 365 days of the year. Additionally, Fairview supports a thriving CSA and markets at two of the best farmers’ markets in California.
Fairview’s model of combining education with organic farming on the fringes of suburban development provided the perfect training ground for Linda’s next farming opportunity – Manager of Gardens of Eagan in Farmington, Minnesota. At Gardens of Eagan, Linda has had the opportunity to expand on the already solid footing of a “pioneer” organic farm started in 1973 by Martin Diffley and purchased by the Wedge Food Co-op in 2008. Carrying out the Wedge’s vision of a model organic vegetable farm that serves not only as an important source of produce for the Twin Cities but as a platform for education has fully occupied Linda’s recent farming seasons. She serves as President of the Organic Field School, the farm-based non-profit created to educate about organic farming, and continues to oversee operations and innovation at Gardens of Eagan.