This Family Has Been Farming Organic Rice In The U.S. For Over 60 Years

They were farming organically before the term had even been coined.

September 11, 2017

When the Lundberg family started trying to farm rice organically in the late 1930s, there was no handbook or university research that showed them how to do it. It took 20 years of experimentation, trials, and crop failures to figure out what the heck they were doing.

Many might have given up by that point, but the family—shaped by their experiences of drought and what they saw as land mismanagement in the Dust Bowl years—was determined to cultivate healthy soil and leave the land better than they found it.


Related: Conventional Farming Ruined The Soil On Our Farm—Here's How We Saved It 

Farmers Albert and Frances Lundberg moved to California from Nebraska in 1937. They wanted to grow rice, but didn’t want to grow it conventionally—Albert understood that traditional rice farming and the practice of burning the stubble after the grain had been harvested was detrimental to soil health. In his mind it was killing off valuable organic matter through the intense heat—organic matter that could be returned to the soil. (Did you know only 1% of farmland in America is organic? This program is changing that.)

(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how; get your copy today.)

That made Lundberg a trailblazer, and the farm started producing organic rice, a practice Albert passed on to his 4 sons. The family quickly realized they had to sell their product a little differently given it wasn't produced by conventional means, so they started selling it directly to the consumer, which was a pretty maverick move for the time.


They began growing organic brown short grain rice in the 60s. They now grow over 18 different types of organic rice, and recently branched into growing quinoa, the first farm in the U.S. to grow it organically. (They also make some pretty darned tasty rice chips, best enjoyed with our clever new take on spinach dip.)

Watch third generation farmer Grant Lundberg talk about his family’s history and why they cared so much about becoming organic rice farmers (above).