Practical Farmers of Iowa Offers Free Field Days

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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 or a plot of land. Here are a few of the 30 topics scheduled throughout the summer and fall of this year.

July 10-Weed “Appreciation – Grinnell

July 17-Scheduling Crops for Storage – Minburn …

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Local Foods Connection – Providing Healthy Foods and Smart Nutrition to Low-Income Families

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Imagine you’re the head of a family. You’re out of work. Or maybe you have a job that pays minimum wage. Maybe you’re an immigrant, trying hard to adjust to a new country, new foods, new customs — all on a limited income. Or, perhaps someone in your family has a serious illness, and your struggle to pay for medical care leaves little to spend on nutritious food for your children and yourself. In this harsh economic climate, for many of us, eating a diet of organic foods is as much a fantasy as a taking a trip to Mars.

“As incomes drop and food budgets shrink, food choices shift toward cheaper refined grains, added sugars, and vegetable fats. The first items to drop out of the diet are usually healthy foods – whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. Energy-rich starches, sweets, and fats, many of them nutrient-poor, frequently offer the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.” — Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet? Adam Drewnowski and Petra Eichelsdoerfer March 2009. A publication of the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition…

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Take Action to Support Healthy Foods

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Over the weekend we saw the movie, Food, Inc. with friends. We were told to have dinner first because the movie would take away our appetite. We didn’t doubt that possibility. But, for one very simple reason, we don’t have the same kind, or the same level, of concern: We know where nearly all our food comes from, and we know the producers and growers who provide it.

Still, the movie is unsettling. None of us were vegetarians before seeing the movie, nor did we leave ready to become vegetarians. But the level of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals in the film was difficult to watch. And, witnessing the levels of bacteria, chemicals, and waste products involved in America’s industrialized food system was very disconcerting, to say the least…

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All Abuzz about Habitat: A Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day and Potluck

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Join Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and One Step at a Time Gardens on Saturday, July 25, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. to explore the many benefits diversity on the landscape offers to the sustainable farm. At 6:00 p.m., PFI will hold the first of its summer potlucks. Bring a dish to share and your own tableware, and enjoy music from the local band The Shifting Gears during dinner. Beverages will be provided.

During the field day, tour One Step at a Time Gardens and hear presentations from local conservation offices. PFI staff member Sarah Carlson will discuss current and emerging opportunities with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) of the 2008 farm bill…

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Community Supported Agriculture – A Win-Win for Farmer and Shareholder

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If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, as we are here in Iowa, you’re coasting through spring on the way to summer. Either you’ve planted a garden, you’re getting ready to plant — or you aren’t intending to plant at all. This post is for the third group, those of you who either don’t want to, or don’t have the space to, plant a garden of your own.

There’s another option: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is a mutually beneficial arrangement between a farmer (or farm collective) and members. Members become shareholders in the CSA farm by pledging a certain amount of money for regular deliveries of a season’s worth of vegetables, fruits, and/or meat. The farmer sets the price and the amount of produce/meat to be delivered, how often, and how long in the season…

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