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How far would you travel to socialize with other beginning farmers? On a sultry July Saturday evening 37 beginning farmers gathered at a summer social hosted by Jack Davis in Adel, Iowa. Practical Farmers staff member Steve Carlson thought he had the longest distance to attend, because this was a stop on his return from vacationing in Colorado. Humorously, his hopes of winning this record were squashed when the Gee family arrived with their foreign exchange student who flew in from France that morning!. The idea of this gathering wasn’t necessarily who traveled the furthest, although fun facts. This social was intended for beginning farmers from the central Iowa region to get together and socialize!
Socialize they did, along with sharing great food and touring Jack Davis’ farm. Farmers in attendance enjoyed the chance to take a break from the heat and summer work to meet with other local beginners. Farmers came from many different enterprises, raising everything from perennial crops and vegetables to livestock. “It was a really nice break and a bright highlight for me after a rough week.” said Jennifer Miller, vegetable farmer from Waukee, “My only regret is that I could have chatted ALL night.” Dotted throughout the event you could find farmers sharing their ideas, troubles and supporting each other.
This event was the start of a regional peer group of beginning farmers. Practical Farmers of Iowa members have been learning from each other for over 30 years. Sharing in this peer-to-peer format has proven to foster relationship building with other colleagues. Those in attendance were asked to complete a survey that will set the direction for how this peer group will help them become stronger farmers.
Are you a beginning farmer in the central Iowa region and were unable to attend this social? We still want your feedback! Please share your thoughts on participating in a peer group by completing this survey by August 1st.
After the potluck was devoured, Jack grabbed the mic and took us through the trails of his 70-acre farm. We started at the barn his father built from using reclaimed materials from an existing dilapidated barn on the property. We walked the trails observing the trees and landscape that have been established by Jack’s family after being intensively grazed by cattle prior to their ownership. Orchards located across the property are filled with everything from pears to berries. Jack also shared his future plans to incorporate agri-tourism into the property and how he will integrate the experience with his marketing opportunities.
Beginning farmers continue to tell us that being part of community is important to them as they start their farming careers. We are thankful for farmers like Jack who are willing to host these socials as a place for farmers to gather and build community. If you are looking for a social to attend check out our calendar of events to find one near you. Furthermore if you are willing to host a Practical Farmers’ social, contact Deb Boekholder at (515) 232-5661 or [email protected]