Cecilia Bowman Papers, 1988-2004


Cecilia “Cissy” Bowman was born in 1953. She attended Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from 1971-1974, and studied psychology and home economics. She began gardening organically in 1973, and in 1983 established Center Valley Organic Farm in Hendricks County, Indiana. A grant from the Center for Science in the Public Interest funded a feasibility study on the market for organic food in Indiana, which in turn identified a viable market, but also the need for certification standards and education for growers, consumers, and retailers. In 1991-1992 Bowman founded Hoosier Organic Marketing Enterprises (HOME), which served Indiana growers as a private certification program, based on the organic standards and materials list of the Indiana chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). By 1994, Bowman and HOME President Val Carr created a Hoosier Organic Marketing Enterprises standards and materials list (for growers under the $5000 annual income exemption) that complied with USDA regulations for private certifiers. Hoosier Organic Marketing Enterprises dissolved by the end of 1994. Renamed Indiana Certified Organic (ICO), the farmer owned and operated organization became a USDA and ISO 65 accredited public certifying agency. Bowman served as founder and CEO of ICO until 2010. In 2012 it became known as Ecocert ICO.

HOME's sister project, Hoosier Organic Marketing Education (also known by the acronym HOME), established in June 1993 as a non-profit organization and funded by a value-added grant by the Indiana Commissioner of Agriculture, provides education on organics in the form of information and workshops, and also co-sponsors the annual Indiana Horticultural Congress. In 1995 it became a membership organization open to the public. Bowman has served as president of the organization since its inception. It works in concert with ICO to provide education on production and marketing of organics.

The Indiana Organic Agriculture Board was established by Senate Bill 214 in 1990. As part of the Indiana Organic Production Law (1993), an Organic Peer Review Panel (PRP) was established. Composed of nine members appointed by the Governor and representing processors/handlers, distributors, farmers, and consumers, as well as the Commissioner of Agriculture and the State Chemist, the panel served in an advisory capacity to establish criteria for certifying agents applying for organic accreditation. A system to deal with complaints was also established. Designed to ensure consumer confidence in the organic label, the PRP also offered the opportunity for public input at its meetings. Bowman served as a PRP member from 1993 to 2008; and as chairperson from 1997 to 1999.

During the same period, Bowman worked with the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) in various leadership roles. For the OCIA Indiana chapter, she served as secretary (1990-1991) and president (January 1992-July 1993, 1994-1996); and for the OCIA International organization, she served as vice-president (July 1993-January 1994); vice-president and legislative liaison (1994-1995); member of the board of directors (1994-1995); and chair of the OCIA Inspector Accreditation Committee (1994-1995).

Bowman also served on the steering committee of the National Organic Marketing Cooperative Feasibility Study in 1995, coordinated by Eric Ardapple Kindberg, of the Ozark Small Farm Viability Project. Funded by a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, the study examined the costs and benefits of a national marketing cooperative for organic products. In 1996, the Organic Farmers Marketing Association was created as a result of the study. Later the OFMA became the Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing.

In addition to appointments with these organizations, Bowman also served on boards and committees for numerous other environmental and sustainable agriculture organizations, including the Organic Farmers Marketing Association (vice president, 1998-1999), the Indiana Sustainable Agriculture Association (board member, 1995-1998), and the Citizens Action Coalition (board member, 1995-1999). She also attended nearly all meetings of the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) from 1993-2000, contributed public comments, and closely followed the activities of the board.

Bowman operated Center Valley Organic Farm until 2012, and currently operates Center Valley Organics as an independent consultant.