The Organic Trade Association recently named Israel Morales Sr. of JV Farms Organic its Organic Farmer of the Year.
Morales is JV Farms Organic’s lead grower with over 40 years of farming experience. JV Farms Organic in Soledad, California, is committed to growing organic crops in an innovative and eco-friendly manner. The company grows 16 different organic vegetable crops in addition to conventional crops, according to the company website.
Israel has extensive experience not just in knowing what produce matches the type of soil, but also other factors important to soil health, according to a press release from the Organic Trade Association. As ranch manager, he has direct influence on the growing practices on all of the acres in his operation. Described by peers as living and breathing organic farming, he has both an old-school mentality on how to grow organically while also a flare for innovation.
A successful large-scale organic farmer, he is known as an excellent steward of land, minimizing disturbance, maximizing soil cover, maximizing biodiversity, and maximizing the presence of living roots, according to the press release. His primary focus is soil health, habitat diversity and reducing or eliminating organic pesticide use if he can. He has developed an innovative farming system using conservation tilllage beds that allows him to use cover crops on 80 to 90 percent of his acreage during the winter fallow.
Three individuals received leadership awards from the Organic Trade Association. Other awardees include Lynn Coody of Organic Agsystems Consulting who won the Growing the Organic Community Award, and Nate Powell-Palm of Cold Spring Organics who won the Rising Star Award.
The Organic Trade Association’s Annual Organic Leadership Award was established in 1997. Awardees are nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by the association’s Board of Directors.
“Each year we look forward to recognizing those within the organic sector who have led with valuable contributions to help grow and expand organic agriculture and the products it markets. It is exciting to recognize outstanding farmers, where it all starts, and others along the organic value chain who play an instrumental role to further organic,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association.
The honorees will receive their leadership awards at a celebration dinner, September 11, at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, MD, during Natural Products Expo East.