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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2014
AGRICULTURE

Practical Farmers raises funds for new farmers

Oct 21, 2013

AMES — Practical Farmers of Iowa has exceeded its $75,000 goal for the “100 Days, 100 Beginners” campaign, allowing the organization to serve the 1,500 beginning farmers in its network with robust programming for 2014 and beyond.

“We are so pleased with the response,” said Executive Director Teresa Opheim. “Two hundred and twenty-six people contributed in amounts ranging from $15 to $10,000 — and more is coming in all the time. The show of support for beginning farmers and for this organization has been heart-warming.”

The successful fundraising effort will allow Practical Farmers to match beginners with farmer mentors and offer “farminar” webinars, retreats and field days specifically tailored for them. In addition, Practical Farmers will be able to continue to offer a website matching landowners with those beginners seeking farmland at www.findafarmer.net, and a Savings Incentive Program for beginning farmers.

Enrollees in S.I.P. develop or fine-tune a business plan, meet with a mentor and attend Practical Farmers events to help build their community of support. At the end of the two-year program, their savings is matched, up to $2,400, to purchase a farm asset.

Practical Farmers says its beginning farmer programming is popular. According to Julie Slocum, who just started farming near Boone: “I don’t know if I’d be pursuing this farming dream if I hadn’t met Practical Farmers.”

“I feel much stronger with Practical Farmers behind me,” added Jordan Scheibel, who farms near Grinnell. “I can’t say enough for what this organization has done for me.”

Among the larger contributors to the 100 Days, 100 Beginners campaign was Grain Millers Inc., a supplier and manufacturer of nongenetically modified and organic whole grains and whole grain ingredients used in many food products served both domestically and around the world. According to the company, “Grain Millers believes that the vision and objectives stated by Practical Farmers fit very well with our own sustainability objectives, as well as our desire to promote long-term production of diversified crop production in Iowa.”

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing.

Farmers in the network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables and more.

For additional information, call 515-232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

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