Field Day December 2023

Transitioning to Organic Production with Rodale Institute

Last December, a workshop was held to fit the needs of farms in the southern Illinois region and funded through the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). The workshop was facilitated by Rodale Institute Organic Consultant, Nic Podoll. The workshop featured sessions on the organic certification process, including choosing a certifier, filling out paperwork, recordkeeping, and going through inspection, the agronomic/technical aspects of organic crop production in small and diversified vegetable, fruit, and livestock systems including weed, fertility, and pest management, and a farmer panel of certified organic growers who shared their experiences with organic certification and managing organic systems, as well as answered specific questions from attendees.

Nic Podoll, a lifelong organic farmer, who grew up and farmed with his family on their certified organic farm in southeast North Dakota, raised small grains and vegetable seed. He facilitated the workshop brilliantly, being a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), IOIA (International Organic Inspectors Association) certified in crops and livestock, and holding a Masters degree in Agricultural & Extension Education. Prior to Rodale Institute, he worked in Extension for the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University.

Dean Dickel, a farmer who works as an independent organic inspector and Organic Advisor for Rodale Institute, also joined the workshop. Dean was born and raised on an Iowa grain and livestock farm and has been connected to Midwest agriculture and rural communities ever since. He covered controversial changes in agriculture such as the introduction of genetically engineered seeds and the dairy hormone BST. In the late 1990s, Dean decided to join the organic movement himself, and with wife Mary at his side, established New Century Farm producing and distributing organic eggs throughout Southern Wisconsin. After a successful 20-year run in the egg business, Dean and Mary sold the business and purchased a home in Mineral Point, WI. Dean currently works as an independent organic inspector and Organic Advisor for Rodale Institute.

Thank you to all who joined us!

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