2023 Summer Field Days
July 10 — Cover Crop Diversification & Organic Transition — Jefferson, IA
Hosted by James and Megan Holz or Iowa Cover Crop, and Joel Lange.
July 14 — Agri-tourism and Orcharding (PFI Field Day) — Adel, IA
Hosted by Maury and Mary Wills of Wills Family Orchard
August 1 — Organic Corn Variety Trials (ISU Extension Field Day) — Jefferson, IA
Hosted by Scott Shriver of Scott Shriver Farms, LLC.
August 6 — Hamilton County Farm Crawl & Ag-Experience Bus Tour — Stratford, IA
Hosted by Backcountry Winery & Brewery, Bluestem Organic Mill, Knob Hill Farm, Bluestem Organic Hemp, and Lost Lake Farm Cheese.
August 17 — Organic Free-Range Eggs & Iowa's Amish Community — Kalona, IA
Hosted by Merlin Ropp and Farmer's Hen House (Sponsor)
September 7 — Organic Seed Trials and Production for Albert Lea Seed — Wesley, IA
Hosted by Bob and Sara Pearson of Prairie Sky Farm
2020 Summer Field Days
Live Roller-Crimper DEMO (2-part series) – June 2 **IOA SPONSOR
Watch Levi Lyle roll-crimp a cereal rye cover crop with a dual-purpose goal in mind: 1) terminate the cover crop without herbicide or tillage and 2) lay down the cover crop as a mulch for weed control. Levi is a partner on a project investigating reduced tillage in organic crop production systems. The project is headed by Dr. Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University. After a few weeks, we'll take another look at the field with Levi and he'll also demo an electric Weed Zapper.
Early Season Organic Weed Control – June 25 ** IOA PARTNER
Matt Miller will show video of various passes of tine harrows and rotary hoes through the field in June and then we'll take a live look at the field. He'll also go over why and when he uses particular pieces of equipment, as well as the adjustments he makes. Learn about a European tine harrow which Matt says is a more unique machine to Iowa farms.
Flame Weeding and Crop Rotation for Weed Control – June 30 **IOA SPONSOR
Learn how Noah Wendt and Caleb Akin uses a flame-weeder as one of many tools for weed management on their organic farm. We'll check out a field that was previously flame-weeded and Noah and Caleb will also show video from a few weeks prior of the flameweeder in action. They'll also discuss the importance of including a small-grain crop in the rotation for their weed management strategy.
Approaching Oats as a Cash Crop – July 1 **IOA PARTNER
Oats are becoming a hot commodity as more grocery shoppers reach for oat-based products -- but in the field we're still treating them like a second-class crop. This virtual field day will showcase the steps Scott Wedemeier has taken to step up oat production on his organic crop and livestock farm, including his participation in a cooperator trial for better oat variety selection.
Live Weed Zapper DEMO and Roller-Crimped Rye (part 2) – July 2 **IOA SPONSOR
Revisit Levi Lyle's roll-crimped cereal rye from June 2 to see how well the cover crop terminated and to watch him demo an electric Weed Zapper. Levi is a partner on a project investigating reduced tillage in organic crop production systems. The project is headed by Dr. Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University.
EARLY MORNING HARVEST FALL HARVEST OPEN HOUSE – SAT, NOV 23; 10 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) is partnering with Earl and Jeff Hafner at Early Morning Harvest for their annual Fall Harvest Open House in Panora, Iowa on Saturday, November 23. Jeff will give a presentation at 3 p.m. on “Overcoming Potential Soil Imbalance with Tissue Testing and Foliar Feeding.” Visitors are welcome to tour the farm, greenhouse, mill and on-farm store, attend a sewing demonstration and try many different food samples highlighting local products provided in the farm store between 10 and 4:30.
Location: 2425 Willow Ave, Panora, Iowa 50216
2019 Regional Workshops
As the organic market continues to grow, Iowa producers, landowners and businesses are looking for opportunities to participate in this movement. Access to technical expertise and resources to support those interested in organic transition or expansion is necessary for Iowa producers to help meet the growing consumer demand for organic products and practices.
The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) and regional partners have developed a program to provide the information, tools and resources needed for agriculture service providers and consultants to support farmers interested in organic transition, diversification and expansion.
This full-day workshop (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.) will provide information from organic experts and presented resources about the National Organic Program, organic certification and transition, organic standards and production practices and insight into current organic market trends and demands.
The dates and locations for the October 2019 workshops were as follows:
October 1 -- Northeast Iowa Community College 1625 HWY 150 South, Calmar
October 2 -- Indian Creek Nature Center 5300 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids
October 3 -- Rock Island Depot 102 Chestnut St, Atlantic
October 4 -- Hamilton County Extension 311 Bank St, Webster City
IOA’s “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshop training series is made possible with grant support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE).
2019 Summer Field Days
The following field days, with experienced organic farmers representing diverse farming practices, will be offered by the Iowa Organic Association with support from the USDA's Risk Management Agency.
MAY 7: EXTEND YOUR GROWING SEASON AND YOUR INCOME IN AN ORGANIC GREENHOUSE
Ben Saunders with Wabi Sabi Farm uses high tunnels and climate-controlled systems inside his diverse 20 acre organic farm and greenhouse. Ben produces organic fruit, vegetables, herbs and transplants. He starts his own plants for the farm and sells a lot more at the Downtown Des Moines Farmer’s Market and at his on-site farm stand. Learn what's needed – from equipment and potting mix to controlling pests and keeping records – for an organic greenhouse.
MAY 18: ORGANIC PASTURE WALK AND BIRD WATCHING FIELD DAY IN McGREGOR
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2-5 pm and 5:30-9 pm
Hosts: Phil Specht and Mary Damm; Prairie Quest Farm, 12082 Iris Avenue, McGregor, IA 52157
Grazing is for the birds! Join IOA and Northeast Iowa Bird Conservancy with hosts Phil Specht and Mary Damm in McGregor for an organic pasture walk and bird watching field day in the afternoon, followed by a potluck and fundraising concert in the evening.g
From 2-5 pm, Phil Specht, grazier, will discuss cattle grazing on his intensively managed pasture system and research on nesting Bobolinks. Paul Skrade, ornithologist and Assistant Professor of Biology at Upper Iowa University, and Jon Stravers, Driftless Area Bird Conservation researcher, will talk about grassland bird conservation and lead walks in the pastures and adjacent forest to see and hear Bobolinks and other grassland and forest birds. Mary Damm, prairie ecologist, will discuss CSP activities implemented on the farm for planting wildlife habitat and lead a walk through a 10-acre reconstructed prairie.
Following the pasture and bird walk, drive a short distance for a potluck at 5:30, bird conservation program at 6:30 and music by Big Blue Sky from 7-9 at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre,509 US Hwy 18, Marquette, IA 52158. Proceeds from the fundraising concert will go to Northeast Iowa Bird Conservancy.
This important topic of managed cattle grazing for grassland bird nesting success will be the focus of the field day. Grassland birds (Bobolinks, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows, and Dickcissels) declined by 61 to 93% between 1966-1991 in Illinois due to habitat loss, in part from the conversion of diversified farms with long crop rotations, pastures, and livestock to intensively managed farms of corn and soybeans. However, some grassland birds can successfully nest and raise young on rotationally grazed livestock farms. Bobolinks have nested on the pastures and hayfields of Prairie Quest Farm, a 120-acre organic, grass-based farm, for over a decade, and their nesting success has been researched for the past four years.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers a number of activities for working farms that promote livestock grazing for nesting grassland birds and for planting native grass, herbs, shrubs, and trees that provide additional habitat for the birds as well as for pollinating and beneficial insects.
Hosts Phil Specht and Mary Damm hope that guests will learn how an organic, grass-based farm is a working ecosystem and learn practical cattle grazing and pasture management techniques that are conducive for beef and milk production as well as habitat for the declining, but once more common, grassland birds. They would also like guests to learn how the CSP can financially aid in achieving farm management goals of food production, wildlife conservation, and habitat improvement efforts on a working farm.
JULY 9: BENEFITS OF GOING ORGANIC AND POLICIES NEEDED TO TRANSITION TO A FAMILY FARM ORGANIC SYSTEM
IOA members, George and Patti Naylor, will host this Organic Transition Field Day at their farm near Churdan, Iowa on Tuesday, July 9th from 4 to 7 p.m. The field day will feature additional partners who will also discuss the benefits of organic transition and the policies and resources needed to transition to a family farm organic system. . “Everybody needs to understand why agriculture is in a crisis, the benefits of going organic and the policies needed to transition to a family farm organic system,”
Field day attendees will tour this diverse, organic farm that goes beyond the corn-soybean rotation to see an orchard that will soon produce apples for hard cider; pollinator habitat planted through a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to buffer between organic and non-organic crops, and to provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife; a small field that is planted in oats and pasture mix; a field of transition soybeans planted into rye that was rolled into a mulch to suppress weeds, to control soil erosion and for water filtration; and a field that was too wet to plant with a crop this spring.
JULY 17: ORGANIC ROW CROP PRODUCTION AND MECHANICAL WEED CONTROL (PFI event/IOA sponsor)
Paul Mugge will share his approach to successfully raising crops and managing weeds in an organic production system. Keys to success include crop rotations, mechanical cultivation and cover crops. This field day is the afternoon portion of a two-part field day the Mugges are hosting that is joined by a shared lunch. Attendees are invited to attend one or both field days. The first part (10 am to noon), will explore prairie and beneficial insect habitat on an organic farm. In addition to organic crops, the Mugges’ farm has a restored prairie, prairie strips, and a beetle bank installed in 2018 with Xerces Society. Lunch will be provided from noon to 1 p.m. Field day partner: UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education.
JULY 25: MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION OPPORTUNITIES FOR ORGANIC VEGETABLES
Mike and Katie began River Root Farm in 2009, but have been farming organically with mentors and partners since 2001 when they met while serving in the Peace Corp in West Africa. This experience provided an awareness about the value of food from a health and economic perspective, but also led to the pursuit of growing food using a production system good for our bodies and the land. Mike shares that “organic production provides many local benefits, and the organic label provides an assurance, a guarantee to our consumers of how their food was produced.”
Mike and Katie will discuss the farm’s history, their organic production practices and how they successfully market and distribute their products through food hubs and co-ops in northeast Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Teresa Wiemerslage, local foods field specialist from ISU Extension, will discuss the local food hub system and how she helps support River Root Farm and other local producers in the area.
AUGUST 7: TOUR THE AMERICAN NATURAL PROCESSORS FACILITY
In 2000, Mark and Julie Schuett started American Natural Processors, a facility that processed organic and non-GMO soybeans without the use of chemicals or preservatives into high quality soybean meal and edible vegetable oil. Today, they process a wide variety of organic grains and oil seeds including soybeans, canola, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and rice as well as complete organic livestock feeds. ANP has grown to be one of the largest organic ingredient processors in the U.S. with processing plants in Hartley, Cherokee, Galva and most recently Sioux City, Iowa. Tour their state-of-the-art facility in Cherokee.
AUGUST 14: ORGANIC DAIRY PRODUCTION AT PRAIRIE STAR FARM
Do you know what it takes to produce organic milk? This is your opportunity to peek inside the barn and stroll through the pasture, while learning some of the best practices of how to operate an organic dairy farm from John and Meghan Palmer. They milk 120 cattle and sell the milk to Organic Valley Cooperative, have 400 acres of crops for livestock feed and manage 200 acres of pasture.
AUGUST 16: CULTIVATING FARM RESILIENCE FOR A CHANGING CLIMATE (PFI event/IOA sponsor)
The Rosmanns use nature-based climate resilience practices on their diversified, organic livestock and crop farm. They will highlight how they work small grains into their field crop rotations and use cover crops for rotational grazing. They will also discuss their farrow-to-finish swine operation. Invited speakers for this field day, Art Cullen, Dr. Richard Cruse and Laura Lengnick, will touch on resilient farm planning, water quality and cultivating community resilience. Rosmann Family Farms grows and markets diverse crops and livestock on 700 certified organic acres. The farm consists of cattle, hogs, egg layers and a range of crops, including popcorn, soybeans, corn, small grains, hay and pasture, annual forages and cover crops. Maria operates the farm store, Farm Sweet Farm. Ellen and Daniel operate FarmTable Delivery and a restaurant, Milk & Honey in Harlan, featuring local foods. A meal will follow the field day, with food provided by Milk & Honey and Rosmann Family Farms.
August 20 – NEELY-KINYON ORGANIC FIELD DAY (IOA sponsor)Sponsors: PFI, USDA-ARS, Iowa Organic Association
The Iowa State University Organic Ag Program (OAP) will highlight the Long-Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) experiment, one of the longest-running comparisons of organic and conventional grain production in the U.S.; the Organic No-Till experiment; and the organic corn breeding trial. A light meal will be served.