March 2024 Member Spotlight: Noah Wendt

Noah Wendt, Kate Mendenhall, and a staffer for Senator Chuck Grassley’s office during the 2024 Farmer Fly-In.

This Month’s Member Spotlight is Noah Wendt of A&W Farms in Cambridge, Iowa. Noah is a first generation farmer who, while he didn’t grow up on a farm himself, was always interested in the crops and livestock he saw his extended family grow and raise. Noah was pushed by family not to go into the volatile agriculture business as a farmer, so he did the next best thing—he went to ag business school.

Regardless of his parents’ attempts, Noah was drawn back to try his hand at production agriculture and away from his career in ag business. So in 2006, Noah partnered with Caleb Akin, another first generation farmer, and started A&W Farms. It wasn’t long before the economics of farming had the pair looking for another way to farm. And so, starting in 2014 with some encouragement from friends who also transitioned, A&W Farms began on a 10-year plan to convert as much of their land to organic as possible. 

While the original motivation to move to organic production was a financial one, Noah looks back at the decade he’s spent as an organic farmer and sees how his reasons have changed. Now Noah sees organic farming as a way of doing better justice to the soil, environment, and humanity. This new way of seeing his farm is one reason why Noah has started speaking up about agricultural topics on a policy level. 

Since starting an organic grain facility with partners, he’s heard more stories from farmers about the same topics—crop insurance, crop rotation, soil health, etc. Topics Noah could now see at a deeper level and knew required farmer voices to advocate for change. 

As an OFA member, Noah just returned from his first Farmer Fly-In Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. Admittedly, he was nervous, but once he joined the group of other experienced advocate-farmers his confidence increased. Noah was able to share his requests for the next Farm Bill with his legislators, and he plans to join OFA at future Fly-Ins, too. 

Reflecting on the greatest lesson he’s learned during his organic journey so far, Noah says he sees there’s a bigger sense of community in the organic movement. People are willing to bend over backwards to help and there’s no advice a farmer won’t share with another farmer if it helps them succeed—it’s unlike anything he ever found in his conventional farming experience.