When Indian Creek Nature Center was gifted the Etzel Sugar Grove Farm in 2016, it was a bit of a surprise. But then again, it made total sense.
Since 1973, the Nature Center has been a local leader in environmental sustainability, working to create “champions of nature.” The Etzel family appreciated that vision, so when it came time to pass down the farm—which had been in the family since 1888—they handed the reigns to Indian Creek with a purpose.
With such deep farming roots, the Etzel family knew there was a need for research on sustainable and organic practices. And as Indian Creek looked for the best way to utilize the land for that purpose, they struck up a partnership with Frontier Co-op.
The two organizations have similar values, so the collaboration was a natural fit. To take the effort to the next level, an additional partnership was established with Rodale, Inc.—a stalwart in the field of organic agriculture.
The result was the Midwest Organic Center—a regional resource center aimed at researching organic practices in Iowa’s climate. While the center also provides farmers with training, extension and pathways to market as they work toward organic certification, at the root of its existence is a desire to create methodologies that will help Iowa sustain its status as America’s food source.
Besides monetary support, Frontier also encourages employees to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the work. Volunteers from Frontier have been on site at the MOC performing a variety of chores—even scraping out a chicken coop.
“We believe the Midwest Organic Center offers a potential solution for the farming industry in Iowa and across the nation,” said Tony Bedard, CEO of Frontier. “This is an opportunity to have a positive impact on restoring topsoil, enhancing soil health and working to solve the challenge of food deserts in the Midwest.”
“The Midwest Organic Center will provide education and resources as farmers implement regenerative practices on their own farms,” said Sarah Halbrook, Director of Development at Indian Creek Nature Center. “Frontier really believes in the work being done here, and this couldn’t have happened without them.”
A significant contribution from Frontier Co-op has provided initial funding for the Midwest Organic Center. For more information, visit indiancreeknaturecenter.org.