The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service honored brothers David and Dan Podell and their wives as its farmers of the year in part because of their national reputation as experts in preserving seeds, La Crosse Tribune reported.
MOSES executive director Faye Jones also praised the Podolls' "stewardship of soil, water and other natural resources while supporting diversity in both crops and the wild."
MOSES hosts one of the nation's largest organic conferences each year in La Crosse, Wis.
David Podell said attitudes have changed dramatically since he began farming 40 years ago.
"When it began, there was always something bad said about organic farmers on radio shows - that they were stupid, or setting back the clock," he said Thursday. Now, even conventional farmers "stop me out in the field and say, 'David, you're doing the right thing."
The Podolls' Prairie Road Organic Farm near Fullerton, N.D., has produced grain and vegetables since 1977 and began selling seeds three years ago. They specialize in varieties adapted to the Northern plains.
"At the outset, we view seeds as sacred - not in the religious sense," David Podell said. "Farmers have been saving seeds for 10,000 years. We're carrying on that tradition."