Mar 1, 2020
MOSES awards visionary growers, ‘changemakers’
Stephen Kloosterman

Jane and David Stevens of Four Elements are no strangers to Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service’s annual conference, having brought their certified organic herbal products – teas, balms and creams – to the MOSES exhibit hall for 30 years.

But on Thursday, they took center stage as the organization honored them as their 2020 Organic Farmers of the Year.

“Their farm is a remarkable example of vision and innovation, having started in 1987 in Texas, and just a year later they started developing value-added products, in 1988, and only one year after that they were certified as organic, in 1989,” said MOSES board member Molly Rockamann.

All herbs are raised and processed on their own farm – now located in North Freedom, Wisconsin – and herb-drying heat lights run on solar power. Rockamann said the business is owned by Jane, although the couple work more or less equally. In accepting the award, the couple were accompanied onstage by their two daughters.

Jane said the early commitment to organic growing played a major role in the growth of her businesses. Early on, she made only soaps, but a breakthrough came when she made herbal ear drops that she said helped her young son.

“That was really the beginning of trusting herbs and seeing how they can help us,” she said. “When you see what plants can do … it’s just very humbling.”

In addition to the Stevens family, MOSES leaders honored three different “Changemakers” for breaking down barriers and “empowering others to farm in ways that are environmentally responsible, socially just, and economically viable.”

Here are the three changemakers honored:

  • Steve Acheson, an Iraq war veteran from Blanchardville, Wisconsin. He started a farm, Peacefully Organic Produce, helped create Wisconsin Veterans for Compassionate Care and the South Central WI Hemp Producers Cooperative.
  • Loretta Livingston and Joy Schelble of the Bad River Food Sovereignty Program. They run a program to teach Native Americans in Wisconsin’s Bad River area to harvest, preserve and prepare wild foods as well as how to grow food in gardens and high tunnels.
  • Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, a native Guatemalan who now lives in Northfield, Minnesota. He founded the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, a group dedicated to “higher standards in food production and supply-chain management.” He accepted the award with representatives of the Mayan nation.


Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower.

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