A pair of Minnesotans – Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford – were recently recognized as sustainable agriculture heroes.
They were among recipients of Sustie Awards from the Ecological Farming Association (EFA), a California non-profit educational organization committed to sustainable farming.
As organic inspectors for 20 years, Riddle and Ford founded the International Organic Inspectors Association in 1991 and co-authored the International Organic Inspection Manual, Organic System Plan, and inspection report templates.
In the United States, Riddle saw a need to reduce regulatory barriers on organic farmers, according to EFA, and he advocated for a national organic certification cost share which was established in the 2002 Farm Bill. For the past seven years he has worked for the University of Minnesota as its organic outreach coordinator.
Ford served on the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OGBA) board in the late-1980s. She served two terms on the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) board; co-authored OTA’s Good Organic Retailing Practices (GORP) training manuals; was a site monitor for pipelines crossing organic farms in Minnesota; and established a training program for this unique occupation. She currently does work for the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).
According to Agri-News, the couple also helped organize the Winona Farmers Market in the 1980s when they were raising vegetables. The publications also said they have gotten back into organic production, starting Blue Fruit Farm on four acres. They have more than 1,600 blueberry bushes, hundreds of elderberries, 300 aronia berry bushes, black chokeberry, black currants, honeyberries, 80 blue plum trees and various other perennial blue fruits.