402.477.2323 info@ocia.org

Picturesque Family Farms have Helping Hands Across Generations

The Wagon Wheel Farm carries on that image. Mike and Karen Ostry and their 11 children farm land that was settled near the rolling hills of Bruno, Neb., in 1874. The children are the sixth generation working the land as Mike, 52, recovers from emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor in February that left him blind. Doctors have said he might get his sight back.

In the meantime, the three oldest boys, Matthew, 24, Louis, 23, and Anthony, 14, are rearing to plant the fields, Mike said. The farm rotates corn, soybeans, oats, field peas, flax, a small grain like wheat with clover underneath, then back to corn or a few years of alfalfa. Cecilia and her twin sister Angelica, 21, work in the garden along with siblings Helena, 17, Gerard, 11, Lydia, 7, and sometimes with one of their grandmothers.

Ostry children ‘walking the beans’ at Wagon Wheel Farm in Bruno, NE.
Ostry children ‘walking the beans’ at Wagon Wheel Farm in Bruno, NE.

“She likes spending time with the grandkids,” Mike said. “The kids like it, having grandma over.”

Maria, 19, raises animals; hogs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and she’s working with two draft horses in the garden, maybe in the fields one day. Gerard and Lydia also take care of the hens. Gabriella and Carl, the youngest two at 5 and 3, help where they’re needed, Mike said.

On top of all of that, Karen, 46, and the children are maintaining the paperwork for organic certification. The Ostry’s farm was certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association starting in 1992. Mike went to an OCIA Nebraska 1 chapter meeting early on and right away he was on a committee. He remembered saying, “I don’t know enough about this” and he said other chapter members told him, “Oh, you’ll learn fast.”

Mike said he farmed with chemicals for a period, but quit because he wanted his family to be able sit down in a field and eat lunch without him having to worry about chemical residue. He also turned to organics because costs left him without enough money to pay his bills at the end of a year. The organic market has been good for the Ostrys who sell organic feed grain to a variety of customers.

“It’s a nice avenue and comradery and it’s just nice,” Mike said.

He called some customers “homesteaders” who might just have a few acres and livestock. One customer was OCIA member ShadowBrook Farm that asked if Mike was still planting a mix of flax, field peas and barley this year. It has been a good feed mix for ShadowBrook Farm’s goats, he said.

“Yeah, I’m planting it again,” he said he told them, just for them and himself. He likes the mix because it keeps weeds down, he can swath them together and grind them together, he said.

Mike may not be planting the mixture himself this year, but his family and the farmers around him are keeping the place going. Ruth Chantry, a fellow organic farmer from Raymond, Neb., set up a fund for Mike’s medical bills.

The OCIA Family Spotlight is a series of stories about OCIA members, in celebration of the International Year of Family Farming.


Date Published:  April 10th, 2014
Author/Title:  Demetria Stephens, OCIA International Board Member
E-Mail:  sandnuri@gmail.com
Address:  OCIA, 1340 N. Cotner Blvd, Lincoln, NE, 68505

This Form Has Already Been Submitted!

Please go to Account > Edit Forms to edit this form. Thank you.

You haven't submit Certification Application

Please go to Account > Certification Application to submit form. Thanks

No has enviado Solicitud de Certificación

Por favor navegue a Account > Solicitud de Certificación para enviar el formulario. Gracias

You haven't logged in.

Please login to access this page. Thanks

No has iniciado sesión.

Inicia sesión para acceder a esta página. Gracias


Thank you for submitting your organic certification application! OCIA looks forward to working with you.

For applicants who are new or currently under suspension, please see the end of the page for some important notes.

An estimate for your 2023 certification and inspection fees was sent with the login information. Please promptly send payment to the address on the invoice. If you are a new applicant, OCIA will not review your file until payment is received.

If you are submitting hardcopies of any supporting documents, please mail them to the address on the invoice. Failure to submit required supporting documents may lead to delays in the review.

Once a complete file is received, OCIA will complete a pre-inspection review. During this process, OCIA will contact you if additional information is needed. Please respond to any communication from OCIA in a timely manner.

Please contact OCIA International if you have any questions.

New applicants: Please be reminded that as a new applicant, your operation currently cannot label or sell product as organic. If organic certification is granted, an organic certificate will be issued and product can then be sold as organic.

For farm operations, the inspector must see your crop in the field, so check-strips must be left in all fields requested for certification if any harvest occurs prior to inspection. For hay fields, any hay harvested prior to inspection cannot be certified as organic.

For suspended operations: Please be aware that no product can be sold as “organic” while suspended and previous product is no longer “organic.” For farm operations, any crops currently in storage are no longer organic and must be sold conventionally. Only crops harvested after reinstatement, if it is granted, may be sold as “organic.” Any crops harvested from fields prior to reinstatement must be sold conventionally.

Close Window


¡Gracias por enviar su solicitud de certificación orgánica! OCIA espera trabajar con usted. Para los solicitantes que son nuevos o están actualmente suspendidos, consulte el final de la página para conocer información importante.

Se le envió un estimado de los honorarios de certificación e inspección 2023 con la información de inicio de sesión. Envíe puntualmente el pago a la dirección que figura en la factura. Si usted es un nuevo solicitante, OCIA no revisará su expediente hasta que se reciba el pago.

Si envía copias impresas de cualquier documento de respaldo, envíelas por correo a la dirección que figura en la factura. Se podrá producir demoras en la revisión si no se envían los documentos de respaldo necesarios,.

Una vez que se recibe un expediente completo, OCIA llevará a cabo una revisión de preinspección. Durante este proceso, OCIA se comunicará con usted si necesita información adicional. Responda a cualquier comunicación de OCIA de manera oportuna.

Póngase en contacto con OCIA International si tiene alguna pregunta.

Para los solicitantes nuevos: recuerde que, como solicitante nuevo, su operación actualmente no puede etiquetar o vender productos como orgánicos. Si se otorga la certificación orgánica, se emitirá un certificado orgánico y el producto se podrá vender como orgánico.

Para las operaciones agrícolas, el inspector debe ver su cultivo en el campo, por lo que si se produce alguna cosecha antes de la inspección, se deben dejar franjas o surcos de verificación en todos los campos solicitados para la certificación. Para los campos de heno, cualquier heno cosechado antes de la inspección no puede certificarse como orgánico.

Para operaciones suspendidas: tenga en cuenta que ningún producto puede venderse como "orgánico" mientras está suspendido y que el producto anterior ya no es "orgánico". Para las operaciones agrícolas, cualquier cultivo actualmente almacenado ya no es orgánico y debe venderse de manera convencional. Solo los cultivos cosechados después del restablecimiento, si se otorga, pueden venderse como "orgánicos". Cualquier cultivo cosechado de los campos antes de la reinstalación debe venderse de manera convencional ".

Cerrar Ventana

Submission Successful

Thank you for submitting your organic certification application! OCIA looks forward to working with you.

Close Window

Envío exitoso

¡Gracias por enviar su solicitud de certificación orgánica! OCIA espera trabajar con usted.

Cerrar Ventana

Confirm Renewal Submission

Please make sure to save all your previous year entries for your records before proceeding. By clicking “Yes, I would like to Proceed”, some entries will be reset for renewal submission.

Yes, I would like to Proceed Close Window

Confirmar envío de renovación

Asegúrese de guardar todas las entradas del año previo para sus registros antes de continuar. Al hacer clic en "Sí, me gustaría continuar", algunas entradas se restablecerán para el envío de su renovación.

Sí, me gustaría continuar Close Window

Please update Certification Application

Please make sure to update your Certfication Application before proceeding with the renewal updates.

Update now