Kleinschmits receive Center for Rural Affairs’ Seventh Generation Award

Farm and Food
Small Towns

Brian Depew, executive director, briand@cfra.org, 402.687.2100, ext. 1015; or Teresa Hoffman, senior communications associate, teresah@cfra.org, 402.687.2100, ext. 1012

LYONS, NEBRASKA - Martin and Linda Kleinschmit of Hartington, Nebraska, have been chosen to receive the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2021 Seventh Generation Award.

The lifetime service award is presented to an individual or individuals who have made major contributions in improving rural life and protecting our land and water.

“Martin and Linda have dedicated their lives to sustaining family farms, pioneering work in organic farming, and advancing renewable energy,” said Brian Depew, Center for Rural Affairs executive director.

Linda currently serves on the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society board of directors and is a former member of the Center’s Advisory Committee. She has also served on the Nebraska Farm Service Agency State Committee, State Board of Directors for Nebraska Farmers Union, League of Rural Voters, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, the steering committee for Ogallala Commons, and the state and national steering committees for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Integrated Food and Farming System Initiative.

Martin is a former Center staff member who led beginning farmer projects for land and credit access, marketing, financial management, and conservation practices. He worked on climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration in agricultural soils. He started the Center’s Beginning Farmer newsletter, which served as the only publication for new farmers during its time. Additional work included leading a statewide organic transition project; advising farmer learning groups on grass-based dairy, controlled grazing, and organic grain marketing; and supervising on-farm research on grazing maize.

While at the Center, he served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Technical Committee to review proposals, led promotion of U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services practices for soil and water conservation; and designed a training curriculum on organic farming for Natural Resources Conservation Services staff in five states.

On top of his work, Martin was among 12 people recognized as a Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture at the White House in 2015. He is a 30-year member of the Nebraska Sustainable Ag Society and previously served on the State Board of Directors for Nebraska Farmers Union.

Martin has installed solar panels at his farm and started a business helping other farmers with financing and installing solar projects. He also acts as a mentor to other farmers interested in sustainable practices. Martin and his brother were participants in the Center’s Small Farms Energy Project from 1976 to 1980, to help farmers discover and develop viable alternatives and renewable energy systems for their own farms.

The couple farmed 365 acres of organic crops and raised livestock near Hartington, where Martin grew up. The cropland and pastureland is currently rented to a young farmer who maintains the organic certification. Linda and Martin continue their small business pursuits through operation of a vacation rental at the family homestead called the Farmhouse Inn.

No award ceremony will be held this year because of the pandemic.

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