MARIO -- The worldwide leader in organic farming research in coming to Iowa to collaborate in a first of its kind partnership in the country to benefit farmers and the community.
The Indian Creek Nature Center in Marion is partnering with the Rodale Institute out of Pennsylvania to create the Midwest Organic Center at their Sugar Grove Farm. Rodale is the leading nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. They have actively worked with farmers across the United States to improve profitability and the product for the consumer for 70 years.
"This partnership is going to be such a unique one within Iowa to really bring organic education and research to Marion," John Myers the Executive Director for the Indian Creek Nature Center said. "Our goal is to really create change withing the regenerative organic agricultural movement and truly impact the number of organic acres in Iowa."
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture Iowa has 103,136 certified organic acres on 732 farms. Iowa is fifth in the nation for number of certified organic farms. Rodale hopes to create a research environment to benefit Iowa farmers by making their data from the farm accessible to the public and educate consumers about organic products. 2019 will start with a side by side comparison of organic corn and soybeans versus conventional corn to create data that can be used in profitability analysis for farmers.
"To be able to lead and pioneer practices that not only focus on true sustainability but also focus on profitability for farmers is really what the Midwest organic center is about," Myers said. "So the research here is not only good for the environment but also is going to improve profitability for farmers as they grow."
Sugar Grove Farm encompasses 190 acres and will provide about 20 of those for the Midwest Organic Center. The farm is in the hands of the Nature Center since 2016 through a generous gift. It is already being used for educational purposes through the corridor but now looks to become the heart of a one of a kind research center in the Midwest.
"We have been a leader in environmental education," Myers said. "To be able to not only teach farmers but people in the community how agriculture can be done in a better and more profitable method is very exciting."