News And Events

Nebraska Organic Family Farm Recognized at OCIA Annual Meeting

Thursday, February 27, 2014

LINCOLN, NE: The Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year is an annual award honoring and recognizing talented producers who certify to the Organic Crop Improvement Association's (OCIA) level of excellence. OCIA Research and Education (R&E) was proud to honor Bernard and Sharon Kavan as the Outstanding Organic Farmer of 2014, during the closing banquet of their annual meeting on February 7, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.

Bernard and Sharon KavanBernard and Sharon Kavan have been an OCIA certified organic farm near Linwood, Nebraska since 1987. However, their organic farming practices go back to the 1970's when the University of Nebraska Lincoln would host tours on their farm expressing methods to enhance the nutrition of crops through the use of beneficial minerals and biologicals. This was at a time when OCIA was just beginning and joined members of NSAS to begin the development of the certified organic movement. Bernard is grateful to OCIA for stabilizing the organic market and price. According to Bernard, "prior to certification you were at the mercy of the buyer as to the price you received and whether you got paid or not. Organic certification standardized and stabilized the organic market."

Bernard's crop rotation consists of oats under seeded with alfalfa the first year, followed by a year of haying to extend the growing time of the legume and reduce tillage. The third year is corn to make use of the nitrogen supplied by alfalfa. Soybeans are grown in the fourth year and corn in the fifth, and then the rotation repeats. Bernard feels this rotation does well to build soil and reduce tillage by haying the small grains and alfalfa. He has also ventured in producing soybeans for the tofu market, blue corn for chips and popcorn. The Kavans have a nice herd of mixed breed cattle to strengthen this rotation by making use of the oats and alfalfa "hayledge", as Bernard calls his oats and alfalfa mix. They are rotated through the upland pastures in the summer and the stock and stubble fields on the river valley in the fall. Manure is applied from the winter quarters and spread on fields following raw manure standards to take advantage of the manure's micronutrient advantage and not over used to replace the nitrogen requirement of the crop.

Bernard is proud to be farming the family homestead that's been in his family since 1873. His farm holds a wide range of wildlife and their habitat. The University of Nebraska Lincoln has even conducted bird studies on his farm, recording the number of species on organic land as opposed to chemical farms. The Kavans are know as Pioneers of their local chapter, OCIA Nebraska #1.


OCIA Research and Education is a charitable organization, created in 2003, by certified organic members of OCIA International, a global leader in organic certification. OCIA R&E's mission is to support organic research; facilitate connections between farmers, researchers, consumers and decision-makers; and educate producers and communities regarding organic farming and foods.