( Courtesy Organic Trade Association )

The Organic Trade Association is honoring Israel Morales Sr. of JV Farms Organics as its Organic Farmer of the Year.

Morales, who has more than 40 years of farming experience, is the lead grower at JV Organics, Soledad, Calif., one of the JV Smith Cos.

As the company’s ranch manager, Morales has a direct influence on how the company’s organic crops are grown, and his experience tells him what vegetables are suitable for specific soil types, and other important factors, according to a news release from The Organic Trade Association.

“Described by peers as living and breathing organic farming, he has both an old-school mentality on how to grow organically, while also a flair for innovation,” according to the release.

As a large-scale commercial grower of organics, the company benefits from Morales’ land stewardship, from minimizing disturbance to the land and maximizing soil cover and biodiversity, his primary focus is soil health, according to the news release.

“He has developed an innovative farming system using conservation tilllage beds that allows him to use cover crops on 80 to 90% of his acreage during the winter fallow,” according to the release.

Morales is one of three organic leaders being honored by the association at a Sept. 11 celebration dinner in Baltimore, Md., during Natural Products Expo East.

Lynn Coody of Organic Agsystems Consulting will receive the Growing the Organic Community Award, and Nate Powell-Palm of Cold Spring Organics (beef and grains) will receive the Rising Star Award.

The Organic Trade Association chooses recipients who advocate for strong organic standards, are passionate about organic farming and actively pass on their knowledge to foster growth in the sector, according to the release.

“Each year we look forward to recognizing those within the organic sector who have led with valuable contributions to help grow and expand organic agriculture and the products it markets,” Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the association, said in the release. “It is exciting to recognize outstanding farmers, where it all starts, and others along the organic value chain who play an instrumental role to further organic.”