National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive

This Archive was created by Ron Kroese, Garden Avenue Associates and Senior Fellow in the Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota.

Composite image of Oral History Interviewees

U of MN Media Archive - Complete Collection of Interviews (videos, mp3 audio recordings, transcripts)

Individual Interviews:

Photo of Jill Auburn

 

Jill Auburn

Former National Program Leader, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Photo of Bob Bergland

 

Bob Bergland

Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Photo of Wendell Berry

 

Wendell Berry

American Novelist, Poet, and Farmer

Photo of Roger Blobaum

 

Roger Blobaum

Organic Farming & Food Policy Advocate, Educator

Photo of George Boody

 

George Boody

Science & Special Projects Leader, Land Stewardship Project

Photo of Don Bustos

 

Don Bustos

Farmer; Co-Founder, National Immigrant Farming Initiative

Photo of Denny Caneff

 

Denny Caneff

Sustainable Farming, Healthy Rivers Advocate

Photo of Kate Clancy

 

Kate Clancy

Food Systems Consultant, Visiting Scholar at the Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health

Photo of Ken Cook

 

Ken Cook

President and co-founder, Environmental Working Group

Photo of Craig Cox

 

Craig Cox

Vice President, Environmental Working Group

Photo of Bob Gray

 

Bob Gray

Washington DC Rep, National Center for Appropriate Technology

Photo of Tom Harkin and Ferd Hoefner

 

Tom Harkin and Ferd Hoefner

Harkin, Former Iowa Senator; Hoefner, Founder and Federal Policy Advocate, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Photo of Chuck Hassebrook

 

Chuck Hassebrook

Former Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs

Photo of Elizabeth Henderson

 

Elizabeth Henderson

Pioneering CSA Farmer and Organic Farming Activist

Photo of Ferd Hoefner

 

Ferd Hoefner

Founder and Federal Policy Advocate, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Photo of Wes Jackson

 

Wes Jackson

President Emeritus, The Land Institute

Photo of Loni Kemp and Dana Jackson

 

Loni Kemp and
Dana Jackson

Kemp, Federal and State Policy Advocate; Jackson, Senior Advisor, Land Stewardship Project

Photo of Margaret Krome

 

Margaret Krome

Policy Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Photo of Al Kurki

 

Al Kurki

Program Specialist, National Center for Appropriate Technology

Photo of Mark Lipson

 

Mark Lipson

Research Associate in Organic Agriculture Policy, University of California, Santa Cruz

Photo of Amy Little

 

Amy Little

Former Policy Director, NE Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Photo of Kathleen Merrigan

 

Kathleen Merrigan

Director of Sustainability, George Washington University

Photo of Lorette Picciano

 

Lorette Picciano

Executive Director, Rural Coalition

Joyce Ford and Jim Riddle 

Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford

Southeast Minnesota Farmers, Organic Farming & Food Advocates

Mark Ritchie 

Mark Ritchie

Former President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Photo of Ricardo Salvador

 

Ricardo Salvador

Director, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

photo of Mark Schultz

 

Mark Schultz

Executive Director, Land Stewardship Project

photo of Bob Scowcroft

 

Bob Scowcroft

Former Executive Director of Organic Farming Research Foundation

photo of Bob Scowcroft and Mark Lipson

 

Bob Scowcroft and Mark Lipson

Former Executive Director of Organic Farming Research Foundation (Scowcroft); and Research Associate in Organic Agriculture Policy, University of California, Santa Cruz (Lipson)

Photo of Iowa City Roundtable 1

 

Roundtable Session 1

Photo of Iowa City Roundtable 2

 

Roundtable Session 2

Photo of Iowa City Roundtable 3

 

Roundtable Session 3

Photo of Shirley Sherrod

 

Shirley Sherrod

Family Farm and Civil Rights Advocate

Photo of Michael Sligh

 

Michael Sligh

Farmer and Program Director - RAFI-USA

photo of Sister Mary Tacheny

 

Sister Mary Tacheny

Educator, Sustainable Farming Advocate, School Sisters of Notre Dame

Photo of Ron and Maria Vakulskas Rosmann

 

Ron and Maria Vaksulskas Rosmann

Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advocates and Organic Farmers

Photo of Lydia Villanueva

 

Lydia Villanueva

Founder-Director Casa del Llano

photo of Bob Warrick

 

Bob Warrick

Former Agriculture Chair, Sierra Club

photo of Mark Winne

 

Mark Winne

Co-Founder, Community Food Security Coalition

photo of Garth Youngberg

 

Garth Youngberg

Former Executive Director, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture

Introduction

Through a series of video-recorded interviews, this oral history archive documents the development and evolution of public policies to advance sustainable and organic agriculture going back to the 1970’s. The women and men whose stories were recorded for this archive are among the key leaders and advocates who played significant roles in devising and promoting the laws and government programs that continue to undergird efforts to achieve a sustainable farming and food system in the United States.

In offering this collection of oral history interviews, the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture acknowledges that the Archive is by no means a complete compilation of all individuals who deserve credit. And with that understanding, we wish to thank the thousands of people around the country whose activism helped achieve the public policy gains that are highlighted in the Archive’s interviews, as well as the hundreds of thousands of farmers around the country who continue to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable and organic agriculture through their stewardship-based practices on the land.

Major topics covered in the interviews include:

  • A review of the federal policy reforms achieved through the seven Farm Bills beginning in the early 1980s, along with recollections of the grassroots campaigns through which farmers and other activists advocated for the sustainable agriculture and conservation policies that were gained through those Farm Bills;
  • The social and political context surrounding the formation in the early 1980s of what became the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC);
  • The evolution of NSAC from its early days as an informal network of grassroots organizations -- most of which were located in the Midwest -- to the more formal structure of regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) around the country in the 1990s, to the NSAC of today with its 120 organizations from throughout the U.S.;
  • A discussion of where the efforts of sustainable and organic farming advocates came up short, as well as an exploration of further policy changes needed to advance sustainable agriculture and a healthier food system going forward.

Ron Kroese, Garden Avenue Associates, and
Senior Fellow, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems
rkroese@visi.com



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Related Resources:

National Agricultural Library: Oral Histories
1988-1994


screenshot of National Agricultural Library oral l history site

 

 

"Growing Right" Oral History Project in Ohio

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association




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