Practical Farmers of Iowa Offers Free Field Days

John Wesselius talks with Field Day participants about "high hoops" temporary greenhouses. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

Despite its name, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) isn’t just for farmers. And it isn’t even just for Iowans. In fact, anyone can attend the free field days presented by PFI on members’ farms; they’re a welcoming and diverse group. Of course, as you might expect, most PFI members are farmers, so field-day events are targeted largely to their needs.

According to the organization, “PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences, and more.” But non-farmers might be surprised at how relevant some of the topics are to anyone who has a yard, a plot of land, or an interest in growing organic foods. Here are a few of the 30 topics scheduled throughout the summer and fall of this year:

June 12-Ingredients for Success on a Certified Organic Farm – Clarinda

July 10-Weed “Appreciation” – Grinnell

July 24-Finding Civilization in the Age of Lawnlessness – Ames

July 31-Community-to-Ag Links/Cover Crops in Veggie Plots – Ames

August 28-Biodiesel: Basics and Beyond – Kalona

September 1-Bioenergy: Educating for Sustainability – Sioux Center

September 12-Berry Patch Field Day and Garlic Fest – Nevada and Ames

October 9-Annual Harvest Potluck & Barn Dance – Solon

October 16-Root Cellar Workshop – Kalona

So, why not pick out an event that interests you and give PFI a try? Visit the PFI website to see their complete Field Day Lineup.

The first two PFI field days are just around the corner. The following information was provided by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Cover Crop Management 101 Field Day, June 2

AMES, IA —The Iowa Learning Farm and Practical Farmers of Iowa will co-sponsor a “Cover Crop Management 101” field day workshop at the Mark Pokorny farm in Tama County, on Wednesday, June 2, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The field day will begin with a complimentary evening meal, followed by a cover crop management discussion.  The event is free and the public is invited to attend. Families are encouraged to attend and see the Iowa Learning Farm’s new Conservation Station mobile learning lab.

Farmers at the PFI Field Days learn from each other's experience and by visiting each other's farms. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

The cover crop management discussion will include: yield response of corn and soybeans following fall-seeded rye and other cereal grains; planter set-up for planting into cover crop residue; soil quality improvements related to cover crop use; preliminary results of corn nitrogen rate trials following winter rye; and use of tillage radish, mixed forages, or other cover crop mixes.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and the Iowa Learning Farm (ILF) have formed a cover crop management working group with six farmer cooperators demonstrating various cover crops and growing techniques; Mark Pokorny is a participant in the working group. He is a farmer and a technician with Tama County NRCS.

The field day site is west of Pokorny’s farmstead, located just south of the intersection of Tama County road E-29 (230th Street) and S Avenue.  Directions to the field day site: Travel 10 miles north on Highway 63 from the Highway 30 intersection at Toledo. Turn right (east) onto E-29 and travel approximately 9 miles to the field day site.

The Iowa Learning Farm is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF staff are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Iowa Learning Farm is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources; in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Energy Efficiency Field Day, June 5

Farmer Janna Wesselius and her husband John will welcome visitors to their farm on June 6. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

SIOUX CENTER, IA—Do you want to increase energy efficiency in your walk-in cooler? Learn how at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on John and Janna Wesselius’ farm, The Cornucopia, near Sioux Center on June 5 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The Energy Group will share results of audits performed on walk-in coolers at The Cornucopia. Improvements to increase efficiency of the coolers will be made right there during the field day. Cookies and beverages will be provided.

The Energy Group will explain rebate programs available from MidAmerican Energy as well as ways to help increase energy efficiency on farms. The Wesselius family will give a farm tour and discuss the utilization of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), pastured chickens, and high tunnels.

The Cornucopia farm includes seven acres of land owned by John and Janna Wesselius. John and Janna cultivate two acres of vegetables, pasture chickens on grass, and raise five to fifteen pigs. They sell directly through farmer’s markets in Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Sioux Center, and also sell produce through a CSA.

This field day is free and all are welcome.

Address: John and Janna Wesselius, “The Cornucopia” 3681 Ibex Avenue, Sioux Center, IA (712) 722-1630

Directions: Take Highway 75 north out of Sioux Center. Turn right onto 370th Street/CR-B30. Turn left onto Ibex Avenue.

Thank you to Ceres Foundation for sponsoring this field day event.

For More Information

To register for a field day or to find out more about Practical Farmers of Iowa, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

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