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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2017

Lunch reservations requested for field days

Aug 27, 2013

Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting two related field days at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 4 at Mogo Organic Farm near Mount Pleasant and at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at Harvestville Farm near Donnellson.

The field days are being held in tandem to highlight strategies related to agritourism, specialty crops and related topics. The events were planned to complement each other, but participants don’t have to attend both. The events are free and open to the public.

Lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. at Harvestville Farm. Reservations are appreciated for the lunch. Contact Lauren Zastrow at lauren@practicalfarmers.org or 515-232-5661 by Monday.

The first event – “Collaboration as a Beginning Farmer Strategy” – will be at Mogo Organic Farm, run by Morgan Hoenig, and will focus on growing specialty crops, unique collaborations and efforts to build an agritourism and retail barn featuring a walk-in cooler, Coolbot and vegetable preparation and retail areas.

The event is sponsored by Iowa State University’s Alliance for Cooperative Business Development. Hoenig, who has been farming since 2007, grows vegetables and flowers on three cultivated acres and wild-harvests on another 100 acres nearby, in addition to raising bees. She is a current PFI Savings Incentive Program enrollee who is being mentored by Adam and Julie Hohl of Harvestville Farm.

Recently, Hoenig helped launch a three-farm marketing collaboration resulting in Green Share Organic CSA, as well as a shared-use equipment research project. In addition to providing an overview of the CSA and how it works, other topics will include: high tunnel production for late-summer and winter crops; vegetable land conversion and improvement with cover crops; getting started in agritourism; and specialty crop machinery sharing.

“Collaboration on the CSA has worked because so far, my farm has been a one-woman project,” Hoenig said. “I got to the point where I realized I couldn’t do so many different crops all myself. With Green Share CSA it’s been 100 percent better. Earlier this spring, we were all going to plant peas, but the other two farms had a lot more rain than I did and couldn’t plant. But I still had peas, so we were still able to have peas in the CSA boxes.”

Additional speakers at Hoenig’s field day will include: Linda Naeve, ISU Extension value-added ag specialist; Georgeanne Artz, ISU Department of Economics; Laurie Roberts, of Long Creek Acres Organic in Ainsworth and one of Hoenig’s farm collaborators; and Lori Graber of Providence Organics in Crawfordsville, who is the third farm collaborator.

The second event – “Dissecting the Specialty Farm Experience” – will take place at Harvestville Farm, run by Kathy Hohl, her son Adam Hohl and daughter-in-law Julie, and will explore the family’s diverse on-farm strategies that integrate agritourism, value-added products and specialty crop production.

Topics covered will include: hosting field trips and business groups; liability and insurance issues; agritourism marketing methods; value-added practices; adding specialty crops to a row-crop operation; labor, economics and marketing efforts past and present; and planting techniques, insect control and harvest methods.

Guests can tour the Retail Barn with sales floor, play area, educational area and corn maze, as well as a design area where visitors can create wreaths, harvest baskets, scarecrows, birdhouses and more. The day also will feature a wagon ride tour of the fields that include 35 acres of pumpkins, squash and hard-shell gourds spanning more than 100 varieties, and attendees will hear the specifics of creating a destination farm and managing it over time.

“We’ll be glad to talk about what has worked for us, and what has not, how we have gradually added what we have, and our plans for additional venues and activities in the future,” Adam Hohl said, adding that “running a specialty farm takes a lot of hard work and dedication. There’s a big learning curve.”

Harvestville Farm is part of a fifth-generation family farm in southeast Iowa. A few years after converting a portion of their 700-acre row crop farm, the Hohl family now manages 45 acres of specialty crops and rents the remainder out.

For information, visit www.practicalfarmers.org or call the PFI office at 515-232-5661.

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