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Published June 10, 2013, 09:18 AM

Walk the Earth on Father's Day

Fred Kirschenmann, a native of Medina, N.D., is described by some as the “Father of Sustainability” for American agriculture.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Fred Kirschenmann, a native of Medina, N.D., is described by some as the “Father of Sustainability” for American agriculture. An organic agriculture proponent and pioneer. Kirschenmann also produces for the “biodynamic” market, which is a subset of the organic world.

He established Farm Verified Organic in 1979, one of the early third-party certification services for organic products. In 1998, he formed International Certification Services, which certify organic and other agricultural practices in the U.S. and other countries. Later, he helped establish the Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resource Management and Sustainability, a nonprofit educational group based in Medina with FVO and ICS.

During a special Father’s Day event dubbed “Day on the Prairie,” FARRMS will host a film viewing and tours of area organic farms, beginning at 1 p.m. at the FARRMS home office, 301 Fifth Ave. SE, in Medina.

Tickets for the Father’s Day event are $100 for the first person and $50 each for additional members of a family or company. FARRMS is offering a Father’s Day ticket price. Bring your father and up to three family members for $150.

Kirschenmann will host Deborah Koons Garcia, a film producer and widow of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, who died in August 1995.

In a separate event, held two days later in Fargo, Koons Garcia will premiere her movie, “Symphony of the Soil: Discover the World Beneath Your Feet.” Symphony of the Soil is described as a feature film project, including various related short films called a “Sonata of Soils,” involving topics such as dry farming, nitrogen, the transition movement, biodynamic farming, composting, soil and water relationships and carbon sequestration.

Kirschenmann holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He is a distinguished fellow from the Iowa State University’s (Aldo) Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He is the president of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York, which educates urban farmers.

At the event, FARRMS will unveil a new “donor wall,” featuring glass art designed by Renee Knight. There will be a showing of “My Father’s Garden,” a film done in the 1990s about when Kirschenmann returned to the farm and converted all of its 3,500 acres to organic farming.

Tour-goers will depart by carpool from the center, and Kirschenmann will give a Father’s Day organic soil tour at his farm. From there, the group will depart on a second tour and gather for a social at 5 p.m. and a meal at Fred’s daughter, Annie Kirschenmann’s rural home near Windsor,

N.D. Event-goers will dine on locally grown vegetables and grass-fed, local organic beef. The event ends at about 7 p.m.

The schedule for June 18 events in Fargo:

• 9 a.m. — Soil discussions, at Loftsard Hall at North Dakota State University, that is free and open to the public.

• 1:30 p.m. — Field tour at Probstfield Farm field, Moorhead, Minn. That is at 4626 Oakport St., N., Moorhead, also free.

• 4 p.m. — Gala with Kirschenmann and Koons Garcia at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. This event is $100 per person with soft drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

• 7 p.m. — Garcia’s movie will play at the Fargo Theater, with tickets $15 and $8 for children under 12. There will be a discussion afterward, led by Greg Carlson, film instructor at Concordia College.

In 2004, Garcia wrote and directed “The Future of Food,” documentary about genetically modified food in North America, generally opposing patenting of living organisms and describing the disappearance of traditional cultural practices. “Rotten Tomatoes” by Flixter, describes that movie as “one-sided but revelatory.”

Proceeds benefit FARRMS education programs. Call 701-486-3569 for information, email or go to to purchase tickets. For information on the movie, go to