The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will honor Laura Krouse, a farmer and biology instructor from Linn County in eastern Iowa, with its 2007 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. The annual award will be presented at the annual meeting of Practical Farmers of Iowa Jan. 11-12 in Des Moines.
Krouse owns and operates a 72-acre farm near Mount Vernon, where she teaches full-time at Cornell College. She also is the proprietor of a 104-year-old open-pollinated seed corn business and Abbe Hills Garden, a Community Supported Agriculture enterprise that serves 120 families.
Krouse is the first small-market farmer to receive the award, established in 2002 to honor farmers, educators or researchers who've made significant contribution toward the stability of mainstream family farms in Iowa. The award includes a $1,000 stipend and is Iowa's most prestigious in sustainable agriculture.
Krouse does a lot for sustainable ag
"This small farm offers enormous diversity, including a restored wetland and constructed pond used for crop irrigation," says Jerry DeWitt, director of the Leopold Center, located at Iowa State University. "Although CSAs do not represent a large part of agriculture at this time, they offer a viable alternative and help build awareness for local foods, which Laura has done through education in the classroom and among her neighbors both on and off the farm."
DeWitt says the selection committee also was impressed with her participation in research. In 2002, Krouse partnered with ISU horticulture and agronomy professor Kathleen Delate on pest management trials for squash and heirloom vegetables destined for the organic baby food market. She is a member and supporter of Practical Farmers of Iowa, hosting numerous field days and participating in the ISU/PFI On-farm Research and Demonstration program.
Devoted to soil conservation, too
Active as an officer for the Linn County Soil and Water Conservation District, Krouse often speaks to groups about conservation, local foods and related topics. She has appeared on Iowa Public Television and the "Now with Bill Moyers" program to promote sustainable agriculture.
Krouse will receive the Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture Jan. 11 in Des Moines during the annual PFI winter conference. More about the award is on the Leopold Center's site www.leopold.iastate.edu/resources/spencer/spencer.htm.
Through its research and education programs, the center supports development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources. Leopold Center funding comes from state appropriations and from fees on nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides, as established by the1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act.