Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Days June 18 and 26

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Nate Anderson hosts a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day on his farm near Cherokee in 2010. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

Whether you’re a farmer or a wannabe, the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) Field Days may be of interest to you. Two upcoming events, June 18 and June 26, are geared for farmers (and farmers at heart) who strive for sustainability along with production.

June 18: Improving a Perennial Pasture

What does it take to establish and care for a pasture with perennial plants? One that is good for grazing a growing herd of cattle? Come find out from farmer Nathan Anderson of Cherokee.

Nate Anderson surveys his perennial pasture on his farm near Cherokee, Iowa. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

Together with his dad, Randy Anderson, and his fiancée, Sarah Joachim, Anderson participates in a Practical Farmers of Iowa project to monitor “ecological productivity and financial indicators” related to improving pastures and grazing systems.

Anderson’s talk will include:

  • Utilizing multiple techniques to improve a pasture
  • Making decisions for long-term grazing improvement
  • Monitoring and tracking pasture improvements
  • Observations of rotational grazing
  • Planning for future herd increases

The event begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at Anderson’s Farm near Cherokee and will conclude with supper. RSVP by calling 515.708.5199 or sending an email to

Directions to Anderson’s Farm

Address: 1944 520th Street, Cherokee, Iowa

From the intersection of Iowa Hwy 3 and Hwy 7 east of Cherokee: Drive west on Hwy 3 for two miles, turn north (right) on county blacktop M-10 (T Ave.). Continue north one mile, turn left (west) on 520th (gravel) and drive about half a mile. The farm site will be on the left (south) side of the gravel road.

June 26: Building a Vegetable Farm

Have you ever wondered how the folks at the farmers’ markets got started producing those beautiful, healthy vegetables and fruits? Is it profitable? How much work it is? The risks? The benefits?

Sara Hanson will speak to Practical Farmers of Iowa about how to start a small vegetable farm. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

If these questions interest you, don’t miss the field day hosted by Sara Hanson of Wesley, Iowa at her Prairie Sky Farm.

From 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 18, visitors will learn about Sara’s successes and challenges in starting her own vegetable farm, including:

  • Hoophouse construction
  • First-year vegetable production
  • Record-keeping
  • Marketing

Sara will also talk about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Come to learn about:

  • Organic transition
  • Cost-share experiences/opportunities
  • Prairie field borders
  • Hoophouse production and record-keeping
  • Start-up vegetable farm experience

Directions to Prairie Sky Farm

Address: 2505 220th Avenue, Wesley, Iowa.

From Wesley: Drive west on Hwy 18 approximately 1.5 miles until you reach 220th Ave. turn north onto 220th Ave. (gravel road). Drive approximately 3.5 miles north. the farm is located on the west side of the road (yellow farmhouse, hoophouse visible from road).

From Algona: Drive east on Hwy 18 approximately 8.5 miles. turn north onto 220th Ave. (gravel road). Drive approximately 3.5 miles north.

About Field Days

Most field days hosted by PFI are free and open to the public. For a copy of the Field Day Guide, which lists all 30 of the 2011 Field Day events, call the PFI office at 515.232.5661. Or, download the pdf version at

For more information about upcoming Field Days, visit the Practical Farmers of Iowa website:

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living

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

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


A PFI field day at One Step at a Time Gardens. Photo courtesy: Practical Farmers of Iowa

A PFI field day at One Step at a Time Gardens. Photo courtesy: Practical Farmers of Iowa

Blue Planet Green Living recently became aware of Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), a progressive farming group that promotes sustainable agriculture. As you well know, the simple issue here is farming responsibly, knowing the short- and long-term effects of what you grow. Farms in Iowa not only feed the planet, but also are causing a great deal of damage to it. Iowa’s soil, air, and water are at stake.

We’ll be posting notices of several of this group’s upcoming events that are open to the public, so you can attend and meet the farmers who are trying to help. If you live in  the Midwest — or even in the U.S., this affects you in many ways. We hope you care enough to listen, read, and learn. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

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.

One Step at a Time Gardens operates a 6+-acre community supported farm (CSA) on their 130 acres near Kanahwa, Iowa, raising high-quality vegetables for farm members and direct sale through farmers markets and regional wholesale. A pastured poultry operation is incorporated into the crop rotation, producing 900+ chickens each summer. Nestled in the rolling glacial moraine hills near East Twin Lake, more than 31 acres are in windbreak and the EPA‘s Wetland Restoration Programs (WRP).

Directions: From Belmond, go north 5 miles on Hwy. 69. Turn west (left) at B63 at Goodell and travel 3 miles. Turn north (right) on R56 at the top of the hill; go 1 mile. Turn west (left) at the first gravel onto 120th St. Go 1.25 miles; turn north (right) into the driveway. East Twin Lake will be on the south (left).

This field day is free, and everybody is welcome.

Experience a sustainable farm at One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, Iowa. Photo courtesy: Practical Farmers of Iowa

Experience a sustainable farm at One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, Iowa. Photo: Courtesy Practical Farmers of Iowa

This field day is sponsored by Ceres Foundation, Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Sustaining sponsors for Practical Farmers of Iowa field days are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University Extension, American Natural Soy, the Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, Albert Lea Seed House, Seed Savers Exchange, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Major sponsors are the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, ATTRA National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Organic Valley and Organic Prairie Family of Farms CROPP Cooperative, Iowa Forage and Grassland Council, and King Corn.

Practical Farmers of Iowa includes a diverse group of farmers and nonfarmers. Corn, soybeans, beef cattle, and hay are the top enterprises for PFI farmers, although many have a variety of other operations, including fruits and vegetables. PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences, and more. For more information, call 515-232-5661 or visit

Courtesy of Practical Farmers of Iowa

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