Practical Farmers Iowa Invites You to August Field Days

Themes of these meetings range from "profiting on a few acres," to going "beyond the grocery store."

Matt and Nancy Clark, Algona, are hosting a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day and potluck Saturday, August 4 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The event, sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union, will focus on how to use a few acres for profit, and on direct-to-consumer marketing and a discussion on the Algona Food Cooperative. The Clark's grow 3,000 trees on just four acres of land; they hand plant each spring to replace trees harvested in winter.

Also speaking at the field day will be Beany and Joanne Roepke Bode. The Bode's own a small acreage and are able to supply 20 shares for community supported agriculture members on less then one acre. They will be discussing, along with the Clark's, the challenges and rewards of adding an enterprise, how to use acres efficiently, the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer marketing and starting a local food co-op. A potluck will follow the program.

PFI field days are sponsored by Animal Welfare Institute, Frontier Natural Products, ISU Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag, and Organic Valley.

Directions: In Algona, from junction of U.S. Hwys. 18 and 169 go 1.5 miles east on U.S. Hwy. 18 to Plum Creek Blacktop (P54, east of Fareway). Then go north 2 miles. Road curves around to the east, follow curve then go straight east onto 240th St. (gravel). Follow 240th St. 1 mile east to 150th Ave. Turn north on 150th Ave. follow road 0.5 miles. Road will dead end at Clark's Christmas Conifers.

Buy your food beyond the grocery store

Laura Krouse of Mt Vernon, is hosting a PFI Field Day Sunday, August 5 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Event will include a farm tour and light dinner, along with discussion on the social, environmental and economic benefits of eating locally grown foods. Kamyar Enshayan, who started the University of Northern Iowa's Local Foods Project 10 years ago will be speaking and facilitating discussion.

"Kamyar is an excellent speaker," says Krouse in regard to why eaters should come. "Our program will be fun and give people the opportunity to think about the importance of their food choices." Krouse encourages people to consider buying directly from farmers through a variety of means, including farmer's markets, u-pick, and community supported agriculture, where families or individuals invest in a farm to receive produce weekly through the season.

Krouse and her workers operate a CSA for over 100 families in the Mt. Vernon area. She also raises and sells open-pollinated corn for seed and maintains a small free-range poultry flock. The corn, called Abbe Hills OP, has been grown on the same Linn County farm for 100 years. Laura also teaches biology at Cornell College and is a longtime commissioner of the Linn County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Directions to Abbe Hills Farm: From intersection of Hwy 30 and Hwy. I near Mt. Vernon, take Hwy. I north into town. At the light, turn left and go west to 8th Ave., also called X-20. Turn right, and go north out of town 1.4 miles. At Abbe Hills Rd., turn left and go west 1.25 miles. There are two red sheds on north side of road.

Swine and holistic farm management

Tom and Irene Frantzen of New Hampton are hosting a PFI field day August 9; from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at their farm. They'll focus on swine herd health, the Conservation Security Program, and grazing. The Frantzen's raise cattle, hogs, corn, soybeans, barley, forages and alternative crops on their 370 acres.

They have practiced holistic management since 1992 and all crops and livestock have been organic since 2002. The farm has a Tier III contract with the USDA's Conservation Security Program. There will be a discussion on organic pigs, artificial insemination for a smaller herd, the Herd Health Guide (a guide for herd health management in alternative swine systems), a hoop house gestation facility, the Conservation Security Program-benefits and prospects, an update on northeast Iowa grazing, and pasture shelterbelts and watering systems.

This field day is sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute, McKnight Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Research Initiative, and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program).

Directions to the Frantzen's farm (1155 Jasper Ave, New Hampton. From the east: From Hwy. 63, go 3 miles west on Hwy. B-22 (110th St.), then 0.5 miles south on Jasper Ave., the farm is on the west side. From the west: go 3 miles east of Alta Vista on B-22 (110th St.), then 0.5 miles south on Jasper Ave., and the farm is on the west side.

Organic no-till tomatoes and forest crops

Practical Farmers of Iowa and Trees Forever are hosting a field day at Cleve Pulley's farm near Earlham on August 11 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event will focus on organic no-till tomatoes and will include discussion on an organic no-till system for tomatoes, with a specialize cover-crop tiller/planter from Rodale, high-tunnel greenhouse production, including tomatoes, melons and eggplant, processing of walnuts and other nuts, and woody plantings as windbreaks or shelterbelt, timber improvement and more.

Pulley produces tomatoes, melons, eggplants and herbs. He grows the herbs as companion plantings to deter insects. He has planted over 500 trees (black walnut, hybrid hazelnut, chestnut, northern pecan, persimmon and paw-paws) and shrubs. His land is all managed sustainably and a portion is certified organic, with an additional portion currently in transition. Additionally, he's working on obtaining Food Alliance certification for eligibility to sell produce to ISU Dining Services' "Farm to ISU" Program.

Trees Forever's Agroforestry Buffers for Organic Producers program supports buffer plantings that help organic producers with issues ranging from improving water and soil quality to providing habitat for beneficial insects to addressing problems of drift from neighboring fields. The program is made possible by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) and is being matched by Trees Forever's Working Watersheds: Buffers & Beyond program.

Pulley's farm is located on 1607 320th Way at Earlham. Directions to the farm from Adel in Dallas County - travel west on U.S. 6 for 7.0 miles to H Ave.; turn south on H Ave. and go about 1 mile to 320th Way; turn right (west) on 320th Way and proceed about 0.7 miles to 1607 320th Way, on the north side.

The field day is supported by Trees Forever, the ISU On-farm Research and Demonstration Program, and Food Alliance in addition to PFI.

PFI is a non-profit sustainable agriculture group dedicated to farming that is profitable, environmentally sound, and healthy for consumers and communities. Founded in 1985, PFI has over 700 farmer and non-farmer members throughout Iowa. For information, call 515-232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.  

Trees Forever is a nonprofit organization based in Marion, IA committed to planting trees and caring for the environment. Programs focus on improving air and water quality, increasing wildlife habitat, provide energy savings and beautifying the landscape. Call 800-369-1269 or visit www.treesforever.org

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