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Passing on knowledge from farmer to farmer works because farmers are credible to each other. Supporting this farmer-led model is what we strive to do at Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Our 2017 annual conference, “Pass It On” (Jan. 201-21 – learn more here), celebrates this model and the impact of farmer-to-farmer learning on farmers’ confidence to explore new or different farming practices, and their ability improve farm profitability and land stewardship.
As we prepare for the conference, we’d like to introduce you to some of the PFI farmers you can learn from during conference sessions.
Tim and Lori raise produce, chickens and bees at Taproot Garden, their 10-acre farm established in 2011. The farm features several wooded acres, along with 3 acres of recently planted native prairie grasses and pollinator wildflowers – funded through prairie restoration grants from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
As part of their commitment to using sustainable practices on their land, Tim and Lori obtained Certified Naturally Grown status for both their vegetables and eggs, and they employ rain barrels and a 26-panel photovoltaic solar system.
Tim is originally from West Texas, and worked for 30 years as a parish pastor. Lori grew up in Iowa and worked as a teacher and educator for many years until her retirement in 2014.
On their website, Tim and Lori write that the name of their farm, “Taproot Garden,” was: “inspired by that sturdy, anchoring root of some plants – like carrots and dandelions – that reaches deep into the soil for nourishment, strength and durability, and from which all other growth emerges. Pursuing a similar deep and nourishing strength, we planted ourselves into this beautiful setting of living soil and fertile imagination.”
In addition to their farm activities, Tim and Lori host small-group retreats, meetings and weddings on their land, and work as facilitators for couples and groups seeking to improve communication and team-building.
Tim and Lori will host the “Hobby Farmer Meet-Up” (on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 8:30 – 9:40 a.m.), a relaxed roundtable-style session meant to help connect everyone from backyard gardeners and acreage owners to part-time farmers – and others who enjoy the fulfillment of working on the land.
**This session is one of several geared to friends of farmers and landowners. **
Other sessions planned specifically for those groups include:
- “Local Foods Roundtable” (Saturday, 1 — 2:10 p.m.) — a session for those who care about promoting local foods in their communities. Attend the session to share and hear new ideas, and meet others interested in local food systems.
- “Non-Farmers: Learn How to Become Farmer Advocates!” (Saturday, 2:30 — 3:40 p.m.) — In this session, learn how you can do more than “vote with your fork” to help support Iowa farmers and a farming landscape that provides healthy food, fair wages and environmental benefits. You’ll learn how you can also vote with your pen (or keyboard) — and your voice — by becoming an effective farmer advocate. You’ll hear examples from fellow members, learn basic messaging skills and leave with the confidence that you have the ability and resources to promote food and farming systems you believe in.
- “Cover Crops and Conservation on Rented Ground” (Saturday, 1 — 2 p.m.) — Are you a non-operator farmland owner? This session will arm you with insights and advice about how to work with your tenants to establish cover crops and other conservation measures on your land so they can be a win-win for both parties. Learn about establishing protocols, hear thoughts on who pays for the investment and assumes the risk, and hear the perspectives of both a landowner and a tenant.
Several other conference sessions — from “Cut Flowers for Beginners” to “Improving Understanding Between Specialty Crop Farmers and Pesticide Applicators” — will provide useful information and context for friends of farmers and landowners who want to gain a better understanding of Iowa agriculture.
Get full details and speaker information in our 2017 conference brochure.
Register for the conference: Practical Farmers’ annual conference is open to everyone! Click here to learn more about the sessions, speakers and registration options.