This article is posted with permission from Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.
Johnson Farms is an organic crop and beef farm situated on 2800 acres. Johnson operates the farm with his brother, Allan and cousin, Aaron. The brothers first learned chemical-free farming from their late father, Bernard.
Frank James of Dakota Rural Action lauds Johnson for “[pioneering] organic practices in South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains,” as well as being “a quiet, long-term leader.”
Johnson’s organic process begins with his six-year crop rotation, which includes two years of hay, one each of soybeans, corn, again with soybeans, and finally oats planted along with alfalfa. This attention to detail has led to Johnson Farms being certified organic by the International Certification Service (FVO/ICS). Johnson’s crops are sold to National Farmer’s Organization (NFO) Organics.
Johnson’s care for the land does not stop at crops. He keeps his 200 head of Black Angus Gelbvieh hydrated with rural water, which keeps the cattle out of creeks and dugout ponds, thus preventing soil erosion and water contamination. Johnson also maintains the tree-belts, sloughs, meadows and grass waterways on his property. This land stewardship led to the farm being honored by the South Dakota Soil and Water Conservation Society in 1996.
Beyond the farm, Johnson and his family have served many different institutions and organizations. This work has included leading many farming studies at South Dakota State University. Johnson himself has been on several boards such as Dakota Rural Action and the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society.
Since 2003, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service has recognized an Organic Farmer/Family of the Year, presenting the award at the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference.
MOSES is a non-profit organization working to promote sustainable and organic agriculture through trainings, workshops, educational initiatives, and by providing free resources to farmers striving to produce high-quality, healthful food using organic and sustainable techniques.