Early last Wednesday morning, strong coffee in hand, Jim Hall and I made the 2 hour journey to Buhl, one of Southwest Idaho’s quaint farming towns. We volunteered to help with the Organic Farm Tour sponsored by NCAP (Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides). As members of NCAP and with a good portion of our business being in the organic food industry, Jim and I thought volunteering would give us the opportunity to learn more about local sustainable agriculture. Little did we know how much our help was needed. Jen Miller, the only NCAP staff member in Idaho, handles each event from beginning to end.
NCAP organizes these tours each summer at several different farms to give organic farmers a forum to discuss and learn from experts and their peers in the sustainable agriculture community. This particular tour was hosted by Mike Heath at his farm, M&M Heath Organic Farms. Mike is a leader in Idaho’s organic agriculture and has been farming organically for 28 years. He currently runs 450 acres of certified organic production!
The day included several speakers from University of Idaho, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Idaho’s Bounty, tours of two of Mike’s fields, a 15-minute downpour that drenched us while we toured the first field, and a delicious lunch that consisted of all local foods from Mike’s and neighboring farms. We were amazed at the network of programs and agencies available to assist organic farmers. Valuable information was shared about agricultural trials and tests, non-pesticide alternatives for potato blight and other common pests, the best process for rotating crops, and more! You cannot help but admire this community of local farmers and organic agricultural specialists in their quest for a better food supply and a better environment. Foerstel applauds the local organic farmers in Idaho!