Posts tagged Practical Farmers of Iowa

Hoophouse hoopla

Hoophouse construction

Hoophouse construction at Abbe Hills Farm

Farmers, students and other advocates of sustainable living gathered at Laura Krouse’s Abbe Hills Farm near Mount Vernon today to learn how to build a hoophouse. Adam Montri, outreach coordinator for Michigan State University’s student organic farm, is leading the workshop, which continues Thursday (April 9, 2009.) Some of the participants hope to extend their growing season with a hoophouse – a sort of low-tech greenhouse that doesn’t require supplemental light or heat. One farmer I spoke to, Russ Brandes, of Hancock – in western Iowa – is considering constructing a

Russ Brandes

Russ Brandes

hoophouse to store his excess hay. A hoophouse would be more economical than building a barn, he said.

Sally Worley, communications director for Practical Farmers of Iowa, which is hosting the free event, said about 50 people from Iowa and Illinois were attending throughout the two-day workshop.

Alex Kachan

Alex Kachan

Among attendees were 9 students from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, who are in a new Community Supported Agriculture block. Their instructor, Alex Kachan, a faculty member in the university’s sustainable living department, said the CSA track was just started this spring, as part of the school’s ongoing effort to raise consciousness about sustainable living practices.

Laura Krause and her summer workers produce vegetables for about 200 families through her farm’s CSA. A great place to spend a sunny (albeit windy) spring day. You can check out the hoophouse if your travels take you on Mount Vernon Road, east of Cedar Rapids. The farm is just north of Mount Vernon Road on Abbe Hills Road – soon to be recognizable by a 35-by-96-foot double poly hoophouse.

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Practical farmers field day

 

Susan Jutz, owner of ZJ Farms, is hosting a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day at her farm near Solon at 5 p.m. this Sunday,  June 29. The field day will include a tour with a light dinner and discussion to follow.  The event also includes an organic essential oil seed treatment demonstration for peas. Traci Bruckner from Center for Rural Affairs will give a presentation about the new Conservation Security Program (CSP). Susan Jutz will talk about an effort funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) to create a farmer-led networking group in Eastern Iowa.

 

“More and more people are looking for food that is locally grown. We don’t have enough farmers to grow the food, specifically the vegetables to meet this expanding market demand,” said Susan. “The SARE project will create a farmer-led networking group where experienced farmers will provide one-on-one support to new or transitioning farmers. These groups will help new and potential growers be successful thus helping supply the growing demand for local food.” If you are interested in joining the farmer support group or attend the field day,  contact Susan at (319)929-5032.

 

ZJ Farms is an 80-acre diversified farm. Susan direct markets organically raised lambs from a 45-ewe flock, direct markets organically raised hogs, and is a principal partner and vegetable grower for a Community Supported Agriculture program in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area that serves 250 members.

 

Directions to ZF Farms: 5025 120th St, Solon. From Solon, 3 miles north on Hwy1; 3 miles east on 120th St.; large white house and barn beside road. Space for tents available.

 

This field day is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sustaining sponsors for Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Days are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Pork Producers Association, American Natural Soy, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Midwest Organic Services Association, Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, and the CROPP Cooperative of Organic Valley/ Organic Prairie Family of Farms. Major sponsors for the Field Days are Wheatsfield Cooperative Natural Foods Grocery, Hubbard Feeds, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council, King Corn and Mosaic Films, and the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. 

 

PFI is a non-profit sustainable agriculture group dedicated to farming that is profitable, environmentally sound, and healthy for consumers and communities. Founded in 1985, PFI has over 700 farmer and non-farmer members throughout Iowa. For more information, call 515-232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

 

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Oakhill garden update

What seemed like a straight-forward proposal turns out not to be with the Cedar Rapids City Council and the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood’s plan for a community garden. Rick Smith’s Eye on the Island blog mentions the red tape the group has encountered. Following is the latest correspondence from Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association president Michael Richards:

From: Michael Richards, President/Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood ASSN.

To: Ms.Sina/Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation

 

Dear Ms.Sina;

 

The City Council made a decision to back the establishment of a community demonstration garden in the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood nearly one month ago at the City Council meeting on March 26th.

 

We are in Iowa where we have a limited growing season.    The extended delays with getting this timely project launched are a mark of extreme inefficiency in our local City government.   If a business operated with such extreme inefficiency, it would be out of business in short order.

 

You are now telling me that you have to “take this back to City Council” after a formal decision was already made on this same project by the City Council one month ago?

 

This is a very well organized community effort.  The Oakhill Jackson Community Garden Project is not a random group of people heading out to a city park with a hoe.

 

Below is the list of organizations that are providing funding and gardening expertise to this exemplary community project;

 

1. Linn County Master Gardeners of the Linn County Extension Service/Iowa State University

2. Iowa Network for Community Agriculture This Statewide organization of professional operators of

    CSA/farms all over the State of Iowa are providing funding and expertise.

3. Practical Farmers of Iowa  (statewide organization that supports sustainable agriculture)

4. Kalona Organics (a coalition or Amish family farms that are binging healthy food to Iowa

5. The Kalona/Organics-Metro High fresh produce project

6. Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (six county soil and water conservation organization that includes Linn County.

7. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University

8.I-Food Local Food Coalition (about 40 local organizations are participating including United Way, Prairiewoods, Grinnell College, ISU, and many local elected officials.

 

 

Back to Cindy: Rick Smith said it looks more likely that the garden will go somewhere other than what the neighborhood association had hoped for. More undoubtedly will follow.

 

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