Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will participate in the 3rd Annual Youth Family Farm & Entrepreneurship Day on September 20 at Sawmill Hollow farm, near the town of Missouri Valley in western Iowa. Sawmill Hollow is a farm that claims to be the nation's first aronia berry farm. The children's day will be held the day before the 6th Annual North American Aronia Berry Festival, which is set for September 21 and 22 at the same farm.
The September 20 program features activities from Hy-Vee, Iowa Area Economic Development Group, Harrison County Conservation, ISU Extension, Wisecup Farm Museum and Sawmill Hollow. This year's theme is the process of taking a product from "farm to market." The event will occur this year on September 20 the Friday of the aronia berry festival weekend.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture to visit the nation's first aronia berry farm, which is located in western Iowa
"We continue to see Iowa agriculture grow and diversify and this will be a great opportunity to show young people the wide variety of opportunities available for value-added agriculture in our state," says Northey. The children's field day offers participating elementary school districts hands-on curriculum emphasizing five key components: economic and agricultural development, nutrition, conservation, farm safety, and art and graphic design for value added products.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
According to Andrew Pittz, a 6th generation family farmer who owns and manages Sawmill Hollow farm, "From the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture to professionals from the Iowa Area Economic Development Group and Hy-Vee, the children's day represents what we know to be true here in the Heartland: it is our responsibility to mentor, teach, and promote future rural generations to be stewards of the land and the entrepreneurial leaders that make our country great."
Last year's event featured Smithsonian featured artist and professor from Iowa State University Jennifer Drinkwater whom led students in making a mural celebrating 100 years of Harrison County Agricultural Heritage. This year's art component will focus on graphic design taught by Professional Label Company's Travis Gurleckz. The selected designs are to be featured on an upcoming aronia berry product.
Aronia is a berry that grows on a bushy plant; the berry is used in various health foods and is attracting interest as a value-added crop
The event continues to celebrate September as "Aronia Berry Month," which was declared by the governor's proclamation last year. Pittz will be traveling to Hy-Vee grocery stores across the state to promote the farm's native but once endangered plant, while Hy-Vee dietitians selected the Midwest crop of aronia berries as their "Pick of the Month" across all 237 stores.
The student's art along with a mural celebrating June's aronia berry planting in all of Iowa's 99 counties will be on display during the North American Aronia Berry Festival September 21 and 22. Sawmill Hollow will also kick-off a "Find Your Aronia Berry" recipe exchange, where participants will include how they "make it great" in their communities every day. For more information visit the Sawmill Hollow farm website.