Two aMaizeing Field Days July 19 and Sept 13!

Come to our aMaizeing field days to learn how the plant breeding landscape has evolved over the past century to change how varieties are owned and protected by intellectual property (IP) rights. Learn about how changes in IP rights and consolidation of the seed industry have reduced the availability and diversity of seed available to the organic sector, which is the fastest growing food sector in the United States. Even though the U.S. is among the world’s top producers and exporters of organic grain, imports of organic corn have more than doubled annually during recent years due to excess demand.  This unmet demand, price premiums and exciting market opportunities are attracting interest in the development of new maize varieties that perform well in organic environments.

Our 2018 field days will introduce a regional effort to develop a network that includes plant breeders, farmers and end users that will work together to design and support plant breeding and testing efforts to serve organic farmers in the region.


Our first event will take place July 19 at 3100 North Rising Road, Champaign IL.

A morning session (8.30-11.30 am) will feature corn breeding plots (the nursery of crosses made from ‘elite’ U of I parental lines) where we are working to develop cultivars and increase seed that will be used by our on-farm testing network.  Attendees will see an example of a strip trial that is taking place on cooperating farms (Photo left shows measurement of cultivar emergence on Steve Buxton’s farm). Cultivars being trialed this year on over a dozen farms include selections made by Martin Bohn (based on U of I’s collection), and other private breeders including Walter Goldstein, of the Mandaamin Institute, who is a co-lead of our project, and Kevin Montgomery.

To register use this link

A Sept 13 Field day will be similar in structure and take place in Wisconsin (address ‘details forthcoming’).  It will feature N use efficient and weed-co

mpetitive cultivars that Walter Goldstein has been developing for the organic sector for years.

Both events will help attendees learn about how the university and independent breeders can use various breeding strategies (eg: hybrids, synthetics, open-pollinated) to develop new cultivars and, explain how we measure cultivar performance.  We will also briefly explain how replicated trials in IL at Jack Erisman’s Goldmine Farm and Joel Gruver/Western IL’s Allison Farm are being carried out to provide insights into the links between plant and soil health.

Folks who have an interest in increasing access to seed with particular traits (eg: nutritional or baking quality, color or unique origin?) or who want to help set breeding or network goals should get in touch with project lead, Carmen Ugarte ( to see if one of our afternoon workshops might be of interest too!

2017 Organic Field Days

2017 WIU Allison Farm Field Day: Capturing the Benefits of Biodiversity in Agriculture

MACOMB, IL — The Western Illinois University 2017 Allison Organic Research and Demonstration Field Day is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11 at the farm north of the WIU-Macomb campus. This year’s theme is
“Capturing the Benefits of Biodiversity in Agriculture.”

According to WIU School of Agriculture Associate Professor Joel Gruver, the daylong event will feature presentations in the morning and field tours and equipment demonstrations in the afternoon. The presentations will begin at 9 a.m. in the Dakin Farm shop, approximately 0.7 miles south of the Allison/WIU Organic Research Farm in southwest Warren County (directions below). A complimentary lunch, featuring local farm products, will be served at noon.

Mark Doudlah, a fourth generation farmer from Wisconsin, will deliver the keynote presentation at 11 a.m. Gruver explained that Doudlah Farms, LLC is pioneering the use of no-till, narrow rows and precision ag technologies to produce a high diversity of organic crops – corn, corn seed, dry beans (dark red kidneys, pintos and black beans), ancient grains, canning crops and cover crop seed (Aroostook rye, Purple Bounty hairy vetch and Manitoba 4010 forage peas). Doudlah Farms also produces pastured livestock (beef, pork and poultry, including eggs) and is conducting collaborative research with the USDA and state universities on peas, oats and pollinator strips.

Other presenters include Mark Mueller of Botanic Innovations, who will discuss alternative crops for specialty oils and nutritional by-products, and Matt O’Neal from the Iowa State University Department of Entomology, who will focus on the impact of biodiversity in farm landscapes on pollinators and biocontrol. Gruver will also share recent research results and lead discussions about the presentations.

A walking tour of the Allison Farm’s research and demonstration plots, which feature corn, soybeans, sunflowers, small plots of alternative crops and diverse cover crops, managed with contrasting tillage systems, fertility programs, seed treatments, interseeding and cultivation practices, will begin at 1:30 p.m. There will also be equipment demonstrations, weather permitting.

Registration is required. To register or for more information about the Field Day, contact Andy Clayton, WIU Organic Program research technician and farm manager, at or (217) 322-2639 or the WIU School of Agriculture at (309) 298-1080.

Onsite registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. Dedicated time for meeting with vendors and networking with attendees is scheduled before and between presentations.

Directions to the Dakin Farm shop, 130 20th St., Roseville, IL:

If arriving from the north, travel on U.S. Rt. 67 five miles south of the U.S. Rt. 67 and IL Rt. 116 intersection in Roseville to County Rd. 20th Ave. N, then turn west and travel four miles on 20th Ave. to the southeast corner of the Allison Farm (intersection of 20th Ave. and 20th St.). Turn left and proceed south 0.7 miles on 20th St. to the Dakin Farm shop located on the west side of the road.

If arriving from the south, travel on U.S. Rt. 67 seven miles north of the U.S. Rt. 67 and IL Rt. 9 intersection in Good Hope to County Rd. 20th Ave. N (2 miles north of the McDonough/Warren County line), then turn west and travel four miles on 20th Ave. to the southeast corner of the Allison Farm (intersection of 20th Ave. and 20th St.). Turn left and proceed south 0.7 miles on 20th St. to the Dakin Farm shop located on the west side of the road.





 Contact: Anders Gurda,, (612) 868-1208

 Organic agriculture continues to move from the fringe towards the mainstream. Many large-scale grain farms throughout the country are transitioning some or all of their acres to organic production, increasing the diversity of their cropping systems as well as the markets that they sell into. With prices often two to three times conventional commodity prices, farmers stand to gain after navigating the sometimes-challenging transition process.

Wallendal farms in Grand Marsh, Wis. is one farm making the transition and finding that it’s worth the investment. Slowly converting up to one-third of their 3,200 irrigated acres over a 10-year period has proven both challenging and rewarding, and “helped to make us better farmers on all of our acres,” says Megan Wallendal, the farm’s research specialist.

“The Wallendals are continually innovating and breaking new ground,” explains Anders Gurda, manager of the Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) at UW-Madison. “And that’s why we’re excited to be working with the whole family to host a field day on their farm.”

The “Adding Organic to Large-Scale Farms” field day will be on August 24th from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wallendal Farms, OGRAIN, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) will host the event. “Anyone and everyone is welcome,” says Gurda.

“No matter what crop or at what scale you’re currently farming, attendees are going to come away with helpful information and new ideas,” says Harriet Behar, senior organic specialist with MOSES.

The field day will cover the Wallendal’s experiences with organic transition, on-farm research, innovative crop rotations, successful farm transfer to the next generation, and running a parallel (organic and conventional) operation. The farm tour will show on-farm grain storage, conservation tillage, and the machines and implements the Wallendals use for specific applications. Participants will also join a field tour that includes bean breeding plots with Ken Kmiecik, an independent bean breeder.

A free lunch is included with registration. Register online for this event at or call MOSES at 715-778-5775. Wallendal Farms is located at 2401 5th Avenue, Grand Marsh, Wis.

Sponsors include Allied Cooperative, Family Farms Group, Midwest Organic Services Association, the DeLong Co., and Purple Cow Organics


OGRAIN (The Organic Grain Resources and Information Network) is a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Extension and MOSES. For more information about OGRAIN and its programs, contact Anders Gurda,, (612) 868-1208.

MOSES Summer Field Days

IOGA Organic Fest

Register Here

No need to be an IOGA member to come out and celebrate organic/sustainable farming and food.

This event will be a potluck so please bring a dish to share, bonus points if you incorporate local, in season, farm-fresh, organic/sustainable ingredients (or any combination of the above).

This event will be a caual affair to celebrate the hard work our farmers put into growing our food. Please feel free to bring a folding chair or blanket, chairs will be limited.

Entertainment will be provided by a fantastic lineup of local musicians. If you are interested in performing please email me at

Where: Gray Farms; Watseka, Illinois

2177 County Rd 1930 E, Watseka, IL 60970

What: Come join us to celebrate organic farming in Illinois!

When: Farm Tour- 4:00 PM
Networking- 5:00
Dinner- 6:00
Music and Dancing- 7:30-10:00

Donations to Illinois Organic Growers Association will be accepted at the event


Illinois Local Grains and Local Markets- Workshop & Field Day

Register Here

Grain save the date (6)

Presentations and discussions in this workshop are designed to raise awareness of the potential for regionally adapted grain to serve growing local and regional markets.

The program will begin at 8:00 a.m. with presentations starting at 8:30 a.m. Speakers include Bill Davison from Illinois Extension, Allison Krill-Brown from the Department of Crop Sciences-University of Illinois, Frank Kutka from the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, and Julie Dawson (Keynote address) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Frank Kutka is a plant breeder and the co-coordinator of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Farm Breeding Club. He grew up in southeastern Wisconsin, studied ecology, and then studied sustainable agriculture and plant breeding. He worked as a Scientist for the University of Minnesota, and as the State Coordinator for the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program in the Dakotas. In his current work, he has been developing of a yellow dent corn that has the ability to prevent cross-pollination with GMO corn. That work builds up on approximately 20 years of experience with corn breeding for the organic farming sector.

Julie Dawson will present a keynote address. Julie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Her background is in organic wheat breeding and participatory research. Before arriving at UW Madison, she was a postdoctoral researcher on a project about value-added grains for regional food systems at Cornell University.  This included variety trials in organic systems and quality testing for artisanal breads.  Prior to that she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in France, where she contributed to the creation of a participatory wheat breeding program with an association of organic farmer-bakers.  She received her PhD from Washington State University, working with Dr. Stephen Jones on organic and participatory wheat breeding.

For more information about the workshop, contact Carmen Ugarte at or Bill Davison at


Illinois Local Grains and Local Markets Field Day

 9:00 a.m.   Registration at the Shop  Janie’s Farm 854E 2300N, Danforth IL 60930


10:00 a.m.  Presentations in the shop by Harold and Ross Wilken on their experience on on-farm selection and milling at Janie’s Farm,  Fred Kolb and Allison Krill-Brown on the U of I efforts to develop wheat varieties suitable for Illinois, and a discussion on participatory crop breeding led by Frank Kutka, founder and co-coordinator of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Farm Breeding Club.

12:00 p.m.  Lunch ($12/person pre-ordered, with a limited number of on-site at $15/person) will include foods made from locally sourced grains prepared by local chefs!

1:003.00 p.m.  Field tours will include the mill and ongoing corn and bean variety trials.

WHEN:  Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 PM (CDT)

WHERE: Janie’s Farm – 854E 2300N, Danforth, Illinois 60930

These events are co-sponsored by the Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois, Illinois Extension, and the Illinois Organic Growers Association.


USDA Organic Farming 2014 Survey and Results


USDA Organic Survey

NASS is excited to announce the upcoming release of the 2014 Organic Survey results on August 31 at Noon ET. This report will provide the latest data for all known U.S. organic producers that are certified, exempt from certification, and transitioning to organic production.

In addition, NASS will conduct an organic survey in fiscal year 2016, which runs from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. The 2015 Organic Survey will focus on providing data in support of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency programs, such as providing price elections for organic crops certified by the USDA organic regulations.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Survey

1. What is the Organic Survey?

The 2014 Organic Survey is a complete inventory of all known organic producers that are certified, exempt from certification in the Unites States (those grossing less than $5,000 annually from organic sales), and those producers transitioning to organic production. This study serves as a census of all organic operations, as directed under the FY2014 Farm Appropriations Bill.

2. Why should I respond to the Organic Survey?

Your responses will provide important, detailed, unbiased information to help determine the economic impact of organic production at the national and state levels. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, total organic product sales by farms in the U.S. have continued to show substantial growth over the last few years, increasing by 83 percent since 2007. Additionally, the sales from 14,326 farms with certified or exempt organic production totaled over $3.1 billion in 2012. Data published from the 2014 Organic Survey will help provide the industry with a reliable source of timely information to use in justifying research projects and fund requests to benefit producers.

3. Who will use the data published from the Organic Survey?

The agriculture industry and all levels of government use the information to prepare a wide variety of organic agriculture-related programs, economic models, legislative initiatives, and market analysis and feasibility studies. These programs directly affect the life and communities of growers and help to improve agriculture production technologies and practices. Specific examples of benefits to producers include

  • Agencies such as USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) use the data to evaluate and establish crop insurance programs for organic producers
  • Farm organizations use the information to lobby Congress or state legislatures for funding and support of organic production programs
  • Government, extension, and university scientists use the information to determine research needs
  • The information could be used to calculate disaster payments for producers
  • Suppliers to the organic industry use the data to plan production and marketing of new products

4. How will the survey be conducted?

Survey forms will be mailed in early January to approximately 17,000 producers nationwide. Responses are due by mail by February 13, 2015 or online by April 3, 2015. To ensure the most complete and accurate accounting of organic agriculture in the United States, the 2014 Organic Survey is a census of all known U.S. certified and exempt organic operations that are currently on NASS’s list frame from the 2011 Certified Organic Survey and the 2012 Census of Agriculture, as well as new certified organic entities obtained from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

5. Can I respond online?

Yes. Survey participants are encouraged to use the secure, convenient online response system. Take the Survey Here: This not only saves you time, but it saves the government money on return postage and data entry. You will need the ID number printed on the mailing label of your survey form.

6. What types of questions will be asked?

The survey will look at organic farming and ranching activities during 2014, including:

  • Production of field crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, berries, livestock and poultry;
  • Production practices such as pest management, cover crops, crop rotation, rotational grazing, conservation tillage, water management and buffer zones;
  • Production expenses;
  • Marketing practices, including wholesale, retail and direct-to-consumer sales; and
  • Value-added production and processing.

7. In order for me to participate in the survey, does my operation have to be certified organic?

No. The survey includes USDA certified organic producers, organic producers exempt from certification (those grossing less than $5,000 annually from organic sales), and producers transitioning to organic production.

8. Must I respond to the survey?

Yes. United States law (Title 7, U.S. Code) requires all those who receive a survey to respond.

9. Will my information be kept confidential?

Absolutely. Respondents are guaranteed by law (Title 7, U.S. Code) that their individual information will be kept confidential. NASS uses the information only for statistical purposes and publishes data only in tabulated totals. The report cannot be used for purposes of taxation, investigation, or regulation. The privacy of individual records is also protected from disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act.

10. When will results of the survey be released?

Survey results will be published in August 2015 and will be available online at

11. What if I want more information or need help completing my form?

Call the toll-free number listed on your survey form – 888.424.7828, or visit