IL - The Illinois Department of Agriculture has named the Bishop family of
PrairiErth Farm in Logan County the winners of the annual R.J. Vollmer Award
for Sustainable Agriculture. The award
will be presented on Thursday afternoon at the Illinois Organic Growers annual
meeting. This meeting is part of the
Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference held this week at
the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.
Bishop has been farming his 300-acre PrairiErth Farm outside Atlanta, Illinois
since 1981. Over time, his sons Graham
and Hans joined the farm and broadened the range of enterprises. Dave's daughter, Kristin, is an elementary
school educator and shares her expertise as she helps facilitate school tours
on the farm.
farmed conventional corn, soybeans, wheat and oats in the early 1980s, but
began to transition to synthetic-chemical free practices in 1985. During the drought of 1988, Bishop observed
that chemical-free crops did significantly better than the conventional crops
because he believed the soil held more water and the plants were less
stressed. At that time, he began
transforming more of his fields, becoming a certified organic farm in 2004.
Farm now produces and markets a wide range of crops and livestock, including
organic corn, soybeans, wheat, livestock forages, vegetables, fruit, honey and
organic beef, pork and eggs. Last year,
Dave raised an heirloom variety of wheat, Turkey Red, which is being ground
into flour at The Mill at Janie's Farm in Ashkum, Illinois. This range of crops, and the link to other
local businesses, illustrate the farm's dedication to "diversity, soil health,
and lasting relationships with our community."
Bishop family is very engaged in the farming community, speaking at many
conferences and on-farm events. Dave is
president of the Illinois Local Foods, Farms and Jobs Council. Hans has been a mentor to new organic farmers
Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program, and serves on the advisory board for the
Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market and Artist Alley.
the years, the Bishop family has been involved in many educational events and
projects, including The Land Connection, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the
University of Illinois. One of the
current research projects with the U of I involves the impact of various cover
crop mixtures on weed suppression, soil microbial activity and field
Bishop family views organic farming and diverse enterprises as the best way to
enhance soil and the farm's viability in the long term. "Organic farming is a way to limit our
ecological footprint by caring for the earth, not just for us, but for future
generations," said Dave Bishop.
to the Bishop family for their dedication and commitment to Illinois