NPSAS recognizes outstanding members

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Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society

Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society (NPSAS), headquartered in LaMoure, N.D., recently hosted their 39th annual Winter Conference held in Aberdeen, S.D. Each year, two NPSAS member awards are given out: Friend of the Farmer and Steward of the Year.

Friend of the Farmer

The 2018 Friend of the Farmer award was presented to Cathy Scheibe, LaMoure, N.D. Cathy was chosen for her continued support and commitment to the organization.

She can often be found promoting the work and mission of NPSAS to friends and colleagues in the LaMoure community and beyond. She generously provides the grounds and building in LaMoure where the local weekly farmer’s market is held. And for the past several years, Toy Farmer auctions off a toy tractor with proceeds donated to the NPSAS general operating fund. She proudly sponsors the youth T-shirts provided at the annual Winter Conference.

Cathy’s history began as a city girl, born in St. Paul, Minn. and later grew up in Moorhead. She doesn’t have to reach too far back in her family to connect with her farming roots. Her dad’s family pioneered in the Le Sueur, Minn., area before moving to St. Paul and her mom’s family was among the earliest settlers in the Red River Valley. When she was very young she spent a lot of time on the family market garden farm, picking strawberries as her very first job.

In the summer of 1960, she did something she thought she would never do, she married a farmer, Claire Scheibe, from LaMoure, N.D. They had three children in four years—and she finished college at UND Ellendale branch with a degree in history and English. She taught school briefly in LaMoure until they had their fourth child. She stayed home until all of the children were in school and then substitute taught for over 20 years.

During this time she helped on the farm with her husband and his parents where they raised small grains and beef cattle. When the children were little they milked two Brown Swiss cows, raised a large garden, had a few chickens, and for one brief time a small herd of sheep.

Together she and Claire started a collector’s newsletter 40 years ago that eventually grew to be a large international magazine for farm toy collectors, called Toy Farmer.

Through the years they have supported local farm youth groups such as FFA and 4-H by creating a memorial scholarship in Claire’s name. For 15 years the scholarship has awarded $5,000 per year to people pursuing careers in agriculture, or careers that will benefit an agricultural community. NPSAS member and past executive director, Theresa Podoll, was one of the recipients of this scholarship when she was pursuing her advanced degree from ISU.

Cathy can’t recall exactly when she first became interested in organic/sustainable/enduring agriculture. She knew David Podoll from church but for many years David was very quiet about his involvement. She often visited a cousin in Germany who would always quote things like, “It’s not easy being green.” Her cousin was into recycling, shopping at local markets and living a sustainable life which planted the seed and helped to inspire her.

When their youngest son Matt went to college in Fargo and majored in landscape architecture, he chose the Moorhead family farm to be his fifth year project that would be the start of Probstfield Farm Living History Foundation. Along with family members and one of Matt’s advisors, the foundation was started and she became a permanent member of the board. She personally purchased the 30-plus-acre Old Trail Market property and soon after donated the real estate to the non-profit PLHF Trust to greatly enhance the education mission and agricultural use of the property by the organization. She was the driving force for creating the Probstfield Farm Sunday Supper, a Farm-to-Table fundraiser which continues with her support.

One of their earliest board presidents was Gretchen Harvey who started the Organic Community Gardens at Probstfield Farm. It was about this time that Cathy became very involved with NPSAS, attributing it to what she was learning from the Probstfield project and because of the friends she was making in LaMoure.

Cathy commented, “It is my belief that sustainable agriculture is forward looking and the only way we will be able to ensure physical and economic health for all those who currently live in this world and for those who will come after us.”

(Nominees for this award must be current NPSAS members who support our farmer/rancher members through dedicated work in enhancing the sustainability of our agricultural, food and distribution systems in the Northern Plains.)

2018 Steward of the Year Award

The organization’s 2018 Steward of the Year award was presented to Owen and Michele Trangsrud, Enderlin, N.D.

The Trangsrud’s are long-time members and supporters of NPSAS. They are fourth generation farmers and began transitioning their farm in 1993. They now care for over 400 acres, some organic and some in transition. They have produced a variety of crops including barley, oats, several wheat varieties, alfalfa, corn, blue corn, rye, sorghum, millet, flax, various fruits and more. They dairy farmed until the fall of 1996, then turned to beef cattle, currently focusing more on grass-fed beef, using the direct market approach for their beef, chickens, eggs and some garden produce.

Owen and Michele have opened up their farm and hosted several field days throughout the years. Their farm has hosted numerous NPSAS Farm Breeder Club research plots, often going well above and beyond what was expected of them to ensure the success of the projects.

Not only have they contributed to the leadership of the Farm Breeding Club, their farm has provided leadership and service to the NPSAS Board of Directors in the early 2000s and recently stepped up again when asked to serve as a current board member.

Their five children were fostered and encouraged at a young age to culture their entrepreneurial talents, working with their parents to seek out and develop their own projects on the farm, and develop marketing relationships with the growing organic community in the Fargo-Moorhead market. They now have five grandchildren (with 2 more on the way).

They have worked hard to educate themselves and others about the benefits of an organic lifestyle, leading by example, and freely sharing information and expertise with anyone needing their help on a broad range of topics.

They are actively engaged in their community in service of their neighbors and community organizations, exemplifying what it means to be a good neighbor, and acting as ambassadors for organic agriculture.

Their family has provided exemplary, long-term, committed leadership as an engaged family farm in the true sense of the word, as organic farmers continually working toward improvement, and as servants to our larger organic community, serving others and giving of their time and talent.

The Trangsrud’s added, “We believe in sustainable agriculture because we believe God gave us the opportunity and the responsibility to maintain the land, leaving it in a better and improved condition. We want to provide future generations with a stable business on which to build and grow.”

(Steward of the Year recipients must be current NPSAS farmer and/or rancher members who are conscientious stewards of the land and all that inhabits it.)

Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society promotes sustainable food systems through education, research and advocacy. To learn more about NPSAS, visit www.npsas.org or find us on Facebook.

Steward of the Year: Michele and Owen Trangsrud pictured with one of their granddaughters, Adalaide and children Jared, Staci, Elise and Erik. Courtesy photo
Friend of the Farmer: Cathy Scheibe’s family joined her for the event. From left, Elliot, Amy McCann, Matthew Scheme, Cameron, Amy Scheibe, Cathy, Abby Scheibe, Erin Scheibe, Ann Scheibe and Mike Scheibe. Courtesy photo