Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

The Woman Who Took on Koch Industries to Save Her Farm

For more of the back story, please visit related articles on the OCA site:

July 2006 - Soil Versus Oil - Prominent Minnesota Organic Farm Threatened by Oil Pipeline

September 2006 - OCA & Organic Community Victory: Oil Pipeline will be Re-routed Around Minnesota Organic Farms

AtinaBooks written by farmers are rare - and for good reason. Growing food takes a lot out of you, and most farmers have little or no time to reflect on their lives or package them up for an audience.

But the fact that it's written by a veteran organic farmer is only part of what makes Atina Diffley's book Turn Here Sweet Corn unique. Part memoir, part chronicle of the evolution of the upper Midwest organic movement and the corporate forces exerting pressure against it, the book also allows new farmers to hear from someone who has spent time in the trenches. Diffley, who co-founded the Gardens of Eagan, a successful Minnesota organic farm which has served the Twin Cities region for nearly three decades, comes across first and foremost as a survivor. She writes passionately about the years she and her husband Martin spent farming and raising a family, in the face of a seeming avalanche of challenges. Diffley takes readers along as they faced devastating droughts and hailstorms (with hailstones "as big as size-B potatoes"), razor-thin margins and near bankruptcy, and an unexpected eminent domain eviction from their first farm.

Then, near the end of the book, the couple hit against the biggest challenge of all: the threat of a Koch Industries pipeline tearing through the middle of their second farm. And rather than take it lying down (and losing the soil they've been building for years), Diffley takes on one of the biggest oil companies in the world, organizes the Twin Cities community, and succeeds at not only protecting her own farm, but convincing the area's public utilities commission to protect and value all organic farmland in the area.

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