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2005 Farmers of the Year - Carmen and Sally Fernholz
A-Frame Farm has been organic for over 30 years. The farm has 360 tillable acres where Carmen and Sally grow small grains, corn and soybeans. The Fernholzes are currently certified by International Certification Services, Inc. (Farm Verified Organic).
When the farm transitioned to organic management in the 1970s, Carmen realized the value of legumes in crop rotation had been lost since livestock were no longer part of the farming operation. He began to experiment with hairy vetch and some of the medics. Perennial alfalfa has become an important cash crop and provides long-term weed management, especially with Canada thistle. A-Frame also produces a variety of small grains, including, oats, wheat, barley, and flax.
Carmen and Sally have been involved in a number of research projects, including several with the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center. A-Frame Farm is enrolled in an 8-year project to determine more effective management practices for Canada thistle through GPS mapping and biological control with bacteria.
In order to help foster the growth of organic agriculture in the Midwest, Carmen became involved in the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OBGA). He chaired OGBA for 8 years from 1984-1992. He currently is Vice President of Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), an organic marketing agency encompassing 8 organizations.
A-Frame Farm has been instrumental in the growth of the golden flax market. The University of Minnesota approached Carmen 7 years ago to see if he was interested in growing golden flax as an alternative crop. He now grows about 15 acres a year, producing 15,000 pounds. A poultry cooperative in SW Minnesota committed to sustainable practices uses golden flax as part of the ration.
Carmen is a well known and respected speaker on organic farming. He has given many talks to farmers interested in transitioning to organic production at conferences and seminars. He is currently serving on the Board of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA). Locally, Carmen has been a member of the Lac qui Parle County Resource Commission and has served on numerous local committees.
One of the Carmen's most significant contributions to helping organic farmers has been his work with the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center in the development of the Minnesota Organic Farmers' Information Exchange (MIOFE) Mentor Hotline, an innovative network of experienced organic farmers who make themselves available to answer questions from farmers.
MOSES salutes Carmen and Sally Fernholz for their years of commitment to organic agriculture and organic farmers.