Iowa Company Was Organic Before Organic Was Cool

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NORWAY, Iowa -- Norway, Iowa is known for it’s 20 state baseball championships and the Hollywood film about them.

Now the town is gaining a reputation for something completely new: its largest employer, Frontier Co-op.

“Frontier Co-op has been the leading producer of organic products for the last 40 years.  We're recognized for our quality, our sourcing and our social responsibility,” said Anne Rierson, PR Manager for Frontier.  “We manufacture organic herb, spices and extract; and we also have a brand of essential oils and aromatherapy products.”

The co-op was formed in a small cabin in Palo, Iowa in 1976.  In the 80’s the group moved to a farm outside of Norway.  That was the birth of what is now a $190 million per year operation with 500 employees at four Iowa locations.

“I think Frontier Co-op is a hidden gem; one of the industry’s largest manufacturers of organic herbs and spices,” said Rierson. “I think a lot of people in Iowa just don't recognize us.  They might see us in the grocery stores but you don't know that we're made here in Iowa.”

The company travels the world to buy the herbs and spices it needs to bring back to Iowa where the products are produced.  Buyers are on the road almost year round to visit over 50 countries to get what is needed.

Frontier also wants to give back to help its growers.  Employees volunteer for and donate to local community projects like the construction of water wells  in those countries.