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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Janette Ryan-Busch papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1989-2006
Creator: Ryan-Busch, Janette (1955-)
Extent: 7.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0675
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Organic farmer and activist from Johnson County, Iowa.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 628) were donated by Janette Ryan-Busch in 1999 and 2000.

Preferred Citation: Janette Ryan-Busch papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Organic farmer and activist Janette Garrels Ryan-Busch was born on a farm in Henry County north of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in 1955 to Ova Garrels, a bookkeeper, and De Wayne Garrels, a farmer and grain elevator and feed dealer. Janette Garrels graduated from Mt. Pleasant High in 1974 married Tom Ryan the same year. The couple had two children: Ira in 1976 and Dustin in 1978. The Ryans were divorced, and Janette Ryan moved with her sons to southern Indiana in 1981. She returned to Iowa in 1983 and married David Busch. The Ryan-Busch family purchased Fae Ridge Farm, just north of Iowa City, in 1985 where Janette Ryan-Busch raises angora goats to sell their mohair. She also supports herself and her family by growing and marketing herbs, flowers, and garden produce in the Johnson County area. She developed an apprenticeship program in 1997, and Fae Ridge Farm has also been a training site for youth from the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County. In 1994, Ryan-Busch joined neighbors and anti-sprawl activists in protesting the rezoning and sale of neighboring farm land for a large residential development project.

Ryan-Busch has been active on several advisory committees charged with establishing legal standards for the production of food products labeled "organic." As consumer demand for organic foods grew in the 1980s, organic growers were concerned that the term "organic" would become, like the word "natural," a meaningless description used to market food products. Growers, therefore, formed state and national organizations to write legislation defining the legal meaning of the word "organic." Iowa was a leader in this endeavor. Ryan-Busch was a member of the rules-making committee for Iowa House Bill 190B (1989) which defined organic certification in Iowa. She was also a member of the rules-making committee, the livestock committee and the fruit and vegetable sub-committee for state Bill 190C, which established the state of Iowa as an organic certifying agency. In 1990, Congress included the Organic Food Act of 1990 (Senate Bill 2830) in the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990. Ryan-Busch was involved with commenting on this bill and advising the United States Department of Agriculture as it wrote the regulations called for in the bill. The USDA announced the rules that would govern organic production at the national level in 2000.

The Janette Ryan-Busch papers date from 1989 to 2006 and measure 7.5 linear inches. They consist primarily of documents relating to Ryan-Busch's organizational and advisory committee work on organic standards. They also demonstrate her involvement in the organic community as an officer in various organizations, and an attendee and presenter at conferences on organic agriculture.

The biographical folder includes newspaper articles about Ryan-Busch and her work at Fae Ridge Farm, and journal entries Ryan-Busch wrote in the late 1990s about rural life, especially her reflections on the loss of farmland and family farms. Information about Fae Ridge Farm store, herb garden, and livestock is also included, and photographs taken at Far Ridge herb garden for use in the 1999 "Nature's Remedy" exhibit at the University of Iowa Hospital's Medical Museum complete the collection.

Browse by Series:

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • General - 2001-2006
  • Box 1:
  • Fae Ridge Farm: Publicity - 1992-2000
  • Fae Ridge Farm: Crop rotation schedules - 1994-1998
  • Organic standards legislation: Senator Leahys Organic Foods Act - 1989
  • Organic standards legislation: Comments - 1989-1990
  • Organic standards legislation: Senate bill 2830 - 1990
  • Organic Advisory Committee of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (2 folders) - 1997-1998
  • Organic standards legislation: National Organic Livestock
  • Iowa Organic Growers and Buyers Association: General - 1991-1992
  • Iowa Organic Growers and Buyers Association: Executive Committee - 1991-1992
  • Iowa Organic Growers and Buyers Association: Marketing cooperatives - 1990-1991
  • Iowa Organic Growers and Buyers Association: Marketing Iowas Organically Grown Foods" conference
  • Iowa Organic Growers and Buyers Association: Membership lists - 1992
  • Box 2:
  • Organic certification agencies - 1990
  • Non-point pollution - 1991-1992
  • Resource files on sustainable organic agriculture - 1992
  • Urban sprawl controversies - 1994
  • Ecological Farming conference, Monterrey, California - 1990
  • 7th National Farmers Direct Marketing Association conference - 1992
  • Conferences: Various programs - 1992
  • Running an Herb, Flower, and Value-Added Farm, presentation by Ryan-Busch at the Midwest Organic Conference: [AC482] - 1999
  • Photographs - 1999