NCAP was pleased to present three Rachel Carson Award Winners for 2015 in each of our program areas. Read on to hear about the amazing work of our Healthy Food & Farms Program Winners Fred and Judy Brossy. Find out more about our other award winners at the end of this article.
Organic Idaho farmers Fred and Judy Brossy are dedicated to growing healthy organic crops, enriching the soil and land, preserving the environment and helping build the organic movement by teaching others how to use sustainable farming practices.
When I talked to Fred this summer to let him know that we would be recognizing his and Judy’s contribution to NCAP with our Rachel Carson Award, his first response was ‘You should really recognize others in the Idaho organic farming community who have done so much.’ While Fred and Judy credit their success to the strong support and mentorship received from long-time organic farmers in Idaho, I credit much of my success at NCAP to Fred and Judy.
I have worked with Fred and Judy since joining the NCAP staff in 2002. They have graciously shared their farm during several farm tours, showing other farmers how they raise organic potatoes and support pollinators with wildflower and riparian plantings. Plus, Fred has presented at so many NCAP workshops, that I can’t even count them all. Others in Idaho agriculture have noted how organic farmers are so willing to share their successes and challenges with other farmers, something not done by all farmers. Fred and Judy embody NCAP’s strategy of supporting peer-to-peer learning. They also have participated in on-farm trials of alternatives to pesticides in potato production.
Fred and Judy’s work to support pollinators and other beneficial insects inspired NCAP’s current program work establishing pollinator habitat on organic farms, with an emphasis on developing organic methods of site prep.
In 2011, Fred and Judy hosted a farm tour highlighting all the ways they encourage pollinators and other beneficial insects. This included protecting flowering plants along their riparian area and in the sagebrush steppe on their farm, planting additional flowering trees along the stream that flows through the middle of the farm, and conducting meadow plantings of wildflowers.
NCAP’s project is following Fred & Judy’s lead. “If you build it, they will come.” I grew up in Iowa, not far from the “field of dreams.” These fields at Fred & Judy’s farm are truly fields of dreams for beneficial insects. We launched our project at NCAP in January 2014 with a workshop called Bring on the Bugs! Farming with Beneficial Insects & Pollinators.
Fred and Judy inspired this work at NCAP and helped with presentations at the workshop. In the last week, I have been out at two farms installing plants. And the habitat planting location at one farm was specifically inspired by Fred’s vision. He has wanted to plant the area next to an irrigation pivot pad, an area that is difficult to crop. Fred’s vision was to get the habitat right out into the crop, which is just what we did last week. This design will be a demonstration for other farmers and for US Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is looking at applying this widely across Idaho farms.
Fred also gave a virtual tour of his farm, during our January 2014 conference. He finished with video of the farm captured by his drone flying overhead. Fred & Judy work hard to keep the big picture in mind – to grow healthy food; to support wildlife such as elk, songbirds, and bumblebees; and to nurture a community of farmers growing good food for the next generation.
While Fred and Judy couldn’t join us at our Healthy Harvest Celebration on October 3 to receive their award, I will recognize them in person at one of our workshops in Idaho this winter.
Read about our other Rachel Carson Award Winners:
Maralyn Chase, Healthy People & Communities Award Winner, represents the citizens of the 32nd Legislative District in moving Washington forward with sustainable public policy. We recognized Senator Chase for her work protecting Washington children from pesticide exposure. The Senator submitted SB 6002, a strong bill that emphasizes non-chemical pest control and prevention to reduce pesticide use in schools through Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Shawn Donnille, Healthy Wildlife & Waters Award Winner, is co-owner of Mountain Rose Herbs. Shawn led Mountain Rose Herbs in eradicating ALL conventionally grown products from its product line and going entirely organic, the first time such a commitment had been made in the herbal industry. NCAP joined Shawn on his 60-acre farm in rural Oregon to film the work he's done to clean up streams and waterways on his property that feed into the larger network of rivers in the Willamette Valley.