MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year

This award recognizes organic farmers who practice outstanding land stewardship, innovation and outreach. The award is presented at the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference at the end of February in La Crosse, Wis.

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2017 MOSES Organic Farmers of the Year

PrairiErth Farm
Dave, Hans, and Katie Bishop

Dave, Hans, and Katie Bishop

PrairiErth is a 300-acre farm with diverse crops and livestock. The farm has been certified organic since 2004. The Bishops also run the 100-acre farm where Dave grew up. Over these combined 400 acres, the Bishops grow organic corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, livestock forages, vegetables, fruit, and flowers and produce organic beef, pork, eggs and honey.

The family sells at local farmers’ markets and to restaurants and stores. They also offer a vegetable CSA that provides members with a weekly box of produce from May through October. They have a winter CSA, too, which is packed with root vegetables, salad supplies, and more.

This diverse mix of crops and livestock is the foundation of the healthy soil on the farm, Dave Bishop explained. The Bishops rely on cover crops and manure, spread by their livestock or applied to fields as stabilized compost, rather than chemical fertilizers to yield bountiful, nutrient-dense crops.

PrairiErth Farm has been participating in research with the University of Illinois for many years. Current research is studying the impact of various cover crop mixtures on weed suppression, soil microbial activity, and field productivity.

The Bishops are passionate about growing organically, a system Dave adopted after years of conventional farming. Dave said he sees organic farming as a way to limit “our ecological footprint by caring for the earth, not just for us, but for future generations.” They’ve reduced their “footprint” even further by using solar-powered pasture fencing and livestock watering systems.

The family has hosted on-farm events to show other farmers how their rotations and sustainable farming system work. Hans has been a mentor to new organic farmers through the MOSES Farmer-To-Farmer Mentoring Program. The Bishops also provide educational tours of the farm for local school children and other civic groups.

Dave is president of the Illinois Local Foods, Farms and Jobs Council. Hans serves on the advisory board for the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artist Alley, and on the board of the Illinois Growers’ Association. Katie teaches work­shops on marketing and social media at farming conferences, including the MOSES Conference. She is also the author of PrairiErth Farm Cookbook.

 

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Past Winners

 

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