LAFARGE, Wis., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Organic Valley will celebrate the nation's organic family farmer and rural America during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sat., July 31 to mark the completion of its new $5.9 million green design headquarters. Organic Valley, located in the Village of LaFarge, Wis. (pop. 780), is proudly America's leading organic-farmer cooperative. The ceremony will begin at noon at the site of Organic Valley's new headquarters, One Organic Way. Building tours, which will highlight the facility's environmental-friendly features, will be offered every 30 minutes from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Ribbon-cutting activities are being held in conjunction with the first-ever Kickapoo Country Fair, an all-day event hosted by Organic Valley and the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to celebrate sustainability and community. For more information on the fair, visit http://www.organicvalley.coop/kickapoo . "Organic Valley's new home, with its barn motif, symbolizes our deep- rooted commitment to supporting organic family farming and the vitality of rural America," said George Siemon, Organic Valley's chief executive officer and founding farmer. "We've made a conscious decision to stay in rural Wisconsin for the long haul, and it sends a clear message about Organic Valley. We're passionately committed to helping revive rural communities and saving family farms through organic, sustainable agriculture." The 49,210 square-foot building features state-of-the-art energy efficiencies including an energy recovery system that swaps cool and warm air within the building; day lighting that uses natural light to reduce the need for electric lighting; and solar-powered parking lot lights. Various recycled materials, sourced from local businesses, are incorporated into the structure. The building's frame incorporates recycled steel, and fly ash, a byproduct of aluminum casting, is used for the drywall. Insulation is made with recycled cloth, similar to the material used for blue jeans. Organic Valley's new headquarters is expected to bring increased economic strength to rural Wisconsin, which has been hard-hit in recent years by the loss of family farms. The cooperative now is actively recruiting new employees to LaFarge and expects to have 180 employees in the new building by September 2004, when staff is scheduled to move into the facility. The building will accommodate up to 250 workers. In their new home, Organic Valley employees will have a locker room with showers; a mile-long nature path circling the 36-acre property; and an alternative transportation system -- green bikes. The new cafeteria will serve all organic foods. Overlooking the rolling hills of Kickapoo Valley, the new building is nestled against the Kickapoo Valley Reserve -- 8,600 acres that are home to diverse wildlife and a popular spot for outdoor recreation. "We've collaborated closely with our farmer-members, employees, the Village of LaFarge and the state of Wisconsin in building our new headquarters," said Cecil Wright, director of local operations for Organic Valley. "Our goal was to create a place that truly reflects the spirit and mission of Organic Valley. I'm proud to say we've successfully done that." LaFarge created a Tax Increment Financing district through which it provided $1.5 million for the new headquarters' infrastructure, including a $750,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The USDA facilitated Organic Valley's $2.8 million "Business & Industry Loan." Organic Valley also received a pass-through loan from Vernon Telephone cooperative, which Vernon Telephone received from USDA Rural Development. "The Village of LaFarge is eternally grateful to the farmers of Organic Valley for their long-term investment in our community," said Steve Donovan, president of the Village of LaFarge. "The cooperative is a powerful role model for other businesses, demonstrating how an investment in rural America is an investment in our whole nation's health, economy, communities, schools, families and the environment." Organic Valley: Farming for Future Generations Organized 15 years ago, the Organic Valley cooperative today is made up of 633 organic farmers in 16 states. It's the only national organic brand that is 100-percent farmer-owned and proudly the only independent national organic dairy in the United States. For further information, visit http://www.organicvalley.coop . DIRECTIONS: Drive to the Village of LaFarge, Wis. at the junction of State Highways 131 and 82, and then follow the Organic Valley signs to the site of the new building located at One Organic Way, LaFarge, Wis.
SOURCE Organic Valley