Rolling Acres Farm, an organic farm located in Iowa, has been committed to producing chemical-free sustainable fruits and vegetables since 1976.
As reported by The Daily Nonpareil, the third-oldest and longest-running local publication in the city Council Bluffs, owners Denise O’Brien and Larry Harris first got involved in farming by working at the Harris family’s 150-year old dairy farm. However, an economic shift in the 1980s prompted the husband-and-wife duo to focus on growing fresh, organic produce. “When dairy prices were low, we sold the herd of cows and began fruit and vegetable production in the ’80s. We had strawberries, raspberries, asparagus and an apple orchard,” O’Brien said.
All produce grown on Rolling Acres Farm is certified organic by the state of Iowa and supported by Community Support Agriculture (CSA), which helps local consumers gain access to fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables directly from farmers. Though the family business offers chicken and turkey meat, its organic CSA boxes are popular across the state.
According to the official website, farming organic fruits and vegetables goes beyond just business – O’Brien and Harris are “committed to nourishing our community and our earth through the production of safe and sustainable food” that’s free from chemicals.
Both O’Brien and Harris credit their upbringing by parents who were affected by the Great Depression as one of the reasons as to how they learned to value the land. In addition to that, the couple were both deeply influenced by the eco-conscious movements of the ’60s and ’70s and believe in composting, recycling, and re-purposing as much as possible. “In our 44 years of marriage, we have always hung our clothes on the clothes line. We try to do our best to consume as little as possible,” O’Brien added.
In addition to bringing fresh, organic produce to locals, Rolling Acres Farms also comes with a mission of sustainability and respect for the land. “Our purpose in life Larry and I feel strongly about is to be good caretakers of the land we are on, we want to leave things in better condition than it was passed down to us,” O’Brien said. O’Brien’s commitment to her community is apparent: she the founder of the Women’s Food and Agriculture Network, an Iowa-based organization that aims to provide support to women in farming and is also a former candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
As the owners of a family farm, O’Brien and Harris are grateful that the younger members of the family are equally committed to carrying out their legacy of taking care of the earth and nourishing the community.
“We’re lucky to have our children and grandchildren close. There are some people who are captured by the land and soil and will continue farming, but not everyone wants to do that. It’s a good thing we have many choices in our lives that we can choose different careers,” O’Brien said.