Ask a Marbleseed Organic Specialist
Marbleseed Organic Specialists are experienced organic farmers and organic farm inspectors who can answer your questions about organic farming practices and organic certification.
Submit your question using the form below or check out the Ask a Specialist Answer Directory to see if your question has already been answered.
Farmers seeking immediate answers can connect with an Organic Specialist by calling the Organic Answer Line at (888) 906-6737 ext. 1 . For gardeners, we recommend the University of Wisconsin Extension’s Ask an Gardening Question.
Meet the Specialists
Rodrigo Cala owns and operates Cala Farm Origenes with his brother. They sell certified organic produce in the Twin Cities. Rodrigo grew up farming near Mexico City and moved to Minnesota in 1996. In 2005, Rodrigo began farming at Big River Farms before purchasing his own farm in western Wisconsin in 2008. Rodrigo is a farmer-owner of Shared Ground Farmers’ Co-op and an agricultural trainer with the Latino Economic Development Center. Rodrigo advises farmers on organic certification, food safety, land access, loan applications, farm finances, farm machinery, and greenhouse production.
Naima hails from Somalia. She is a farmer and the founder of the Somali American Farmers Association. Naima is a garduate of Big River Farm's training program and farms with her family in Alexandria, MN. Naima wants to strengthen the foundations of Somali and Horn of Africa farmers to contribute to the future of agriculture in Minnesota and the Midwest.
Grains & Row Crops
Carmen has been growing certified organic grain and forage crops at A-Frame Farm in western Minnesota since 1975 and has a wealth of knowledge on production, cover crops, and weed and fertility management. Carmen is involved with research at the University of Minnesota. He and his wife, Sally, were the 2005 Marbleseed Organic Farmers of the Year.
Fruit & Pigs
Rachel and her husband, Anton, own and operate Mary Dirty Face Farm near Menomonie, WI. They grow 9 acres of certified organic berries, apples, pears, and plums. They’ve recently added livestock as an additional enterprise for the farm. Rachel is past coordinator of the Organic Fruit Growers Association.
Beekeeping, Vegetables, & Urban Farming
Beatrice was born in Kenya and has lived in Chicago, IL for over 20 years. For the last four years, Beatrice has grown vegetables that are popular among African immigrant communities. She is also beekeeping through Farmers For Chicago, (FFC), a farmer training program offered by Urban Growers Collective, and presented on beekeeping at the 2020 Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference. Beatrice is the co-founder of an international network of beekeepers called African Women in Beekeeping. Beatrice is knowledgeable in business management and accounting, composting, growing mushrooms, food safety, vegetables, and microgreens. She is also a licensed practical nurse.
Dairy & Livestock Grazing
Kevin Mahalko has an organic dairy herd in Gilman, WI, producing milk for the Organic Valley Grassmilk program. Kevin is president of Grassworks, a grazing educator for River Country RC&D, and an educator for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program.
Peer Support Specialist
Joya Wade is a Milwaukee native with a passion for connecting themselves and others back with nature. Their journey in our food system started in professional kitchens that celebrated the farm-to-table model. After eight years of preparing all types of cuisines from vegan comfort food to artisan chocolates and ice cream, Joya currently works as a Peer Specialist and a market gardener growing microgreens, medicinal herbs, and vegetables.