Wayne the Farmer ~ “Mr. Organic” of White Buffalo Farm

Retrospective on Organics ~ Historical Vignette One (first in a forthcoming blog series)

In the late 1980s, White Buffalo Farm contributed to the design and construction of the greenhouse at the the Old River Road Trading Post before the current owners arrived in the North Fork Valley. In those days organics was a cause rather than a lifestyle! Spray was common. Other organic farmers of the era were Big B’s Bernie Heideman, Steve Wolcott, Ed Modestino and other members of the valley’s first organic cooperative, the North Fork Organic Growers Cooperative.  These farmers worked side-by-side and cooperated closely together before organics was fully profitable.  Visionaries and pioneers preceded the early adopters who came into organics in the last two decades.  Many of these pioneers no longer farm and gave it up years ago.  Wayne is pleased to welcome the “new” agrarians and hopes they’ll continue to ensure certified organic remains front and center alongside “local”!

If it is not organic, in what way are we healing our waterways, ecosystems and ourselves?  For instance, the spot use of “round up” is never allowed in certified organic nor are your friends your certifiers.  Third party certification is required.  If it is not “certified,” you really need to know your farmer and their practices first hand.  That is simply not going to happen for most of the population at least in the near to mid term.  Think big everybody!

 

Thomas D. McCracken, Green Earth Farm, Farmer – Grower’s Organic, Co-Founder

“Wayne Talmage was one of the first organic farmers I found when Lillian and I moved to Colorado and started our own farm in 1987. This was long before Colorado had a certification process and we both had input into starting the process toward certification and forming a group of idealistic farmers toward that end.  At that time we could not have envisioned how the movement would grow, eventually attracting large corporations who would end up controlling the markets we created. Wayne has proven to be very durable, tenacious and creative as we have had to reshape our operations to adapt to changes in markets, weather, labor, and many other challenges. He has remained true to his ideals and I respect him greatly for that.”

Brian Freeman, Grower’s Organic, Owner and Co-Founder

“When I think of White Buffalo Farm and Wayne Talmage, I have visions of innovation, perseverance, and commitment. Wayne and his farm remain steadfast in their commitment to organic agriculture. Adverse weather conditions have caused the farm to lose crops in past seasons; however, Wayne perseveres and pioneers new methods in organic farming. Wayne is a steward for the planet and a legend in Colorado’s organic infrastructure.”

Addie Cranson, Old River Road Trading Post, Owner and Founder

“White Buffalo Farm has been an inspiration in the North Fork Valley pioneering the organic movement starting almost 40 years ago. They have continued to grow quality nutritious food for the community and beyond. Thank you Wayne. This farm is a heritage and treasure to the people who live here.”

WAYNE’S BACKGROUND
President: White Buffalo Farm, Inc. (1976 to present)
40 years of organic farming experience: vegetables, apiculture, dairy and fruit.

Policy Experience
National and state level advocacy on key issues of 1970s and 80s: public radio, education, civil rights and community development.
Over 30 years of regional and national agricultural leadership and policy development to expand organic practices and ensure profitability in niche segments of organic marketplace.
Appointed by Governor Romer (CO) to sit on the Colorado Department of Agriculture Organic Advisory Council (1984-1986) to oversee the development of organic food industry in Colorado.
Presented “Growing Food Organically” at the Colorado Horticultural Society of Western Colorado (Grand Junction) to over 350 participating growers and farmers (1988)
Co-op Member: Roger’s Mesa Fruit Company Co-op (1990-present) instrumental in the conversion to organics for many regional farmers and processors.
Non Profit and BOD
Founding Member: Colorado Organic Fruit Growers Co-op (1975-1980)
Start Up: Boulder Farmer’s Market (1978)
Board of Directors: Colorado Organic Producers Association (1982-1984)
Board of Directors: KVNF Public Radio, Paonia (1990-1992)
Start Up: Valley Organic Grower’s Association, VOGA-Delta County, CO (2000)
Start Up:  Telluride Farmers Market (2002) and other regional young farmer initiatives
Board of Directors: Tropic Ditch Company (1990-present)
Board of Directors:  Hammond Pipeline Association (1990-present)
Advisor to Board: Gunnison Farmer’s Market (2004-present)
Processing and Distribution:
Principal supplier of organic fruits to the embryonic organic food industry: Whole Foods (formerly Texas Health), Alfalfas, United (formerly Rainbow Distribution and Boulder Fruit Express) (1970-1980)
First Colorado Organic Pasteurized Apple Juice (1976-1986)
Nectarine Nectar (1988-1998)
Education
B.A. History, Metropolitan State College, Denver, CO
M.A. Political Science, University of Colorado-Boulder
Assistant Professor, Political Philosophy, University of Colorado-Boulder (1971-1972)
Strong athlete with history of excellence in sports in high school, college and in adult league in North Fork Valley. Received college basketball scholarship.  Farmer for 40 years!
Rather than continue in an academic career, Wayne decided to become a farmer.  In the 1974, he was the given the choice between The New School of Social Research, a powerhouse of intellectual inquiry based in New York City, or what was the yet unnamed commune-farm that previously grew petunia seed in Paonia.  At the age of 27, Wayne chose to become a farmer;  his revolutionary calling remains to restore ecological and social systems through food systems.  Wayne remains a staunch supporter of organic certification and is challenged by the numerous vendors claiming their product is organic when it is not certified and verified.  Know your farmer.  Wayne’s operation is earth-friendly, pioneering organic since 1974 and certified organic soon after the National Organic Program formed in 1990.  Visits welcome!  Check out our events.