Savings Incentive Program Class of 2012

These Savings Incentive Program recipients, our first class, enrolled in the program in 2010 and graduated in 2012.


Nathan Anderson

Nathan Anderson raises corn and soybeans near Cherokee. He also added a cow-calf enterprise to his farm. Nathan’s plans include securing a long-term land base, increasing his crop rotation to include small grains and alternative crops, increasing pasture acres to grow the size of his cow-calf operation and adding additional livestock species.

“This program will be a great benefit to my farming operation, both now and into the future, through farm business planning, financial assistance, participation in conferences and field days, as well as opportunities to network with other beginners and long-time farmers.”

Ethan and Rebecca Book

Ethan and Rebecca Book operate Crooked Gap Farm near Knoxville. Their primary enterprises focus on raising Heritage breeds of grass-fed beef, outdoor-raised farrow-to-finish hogs and pastured egg layers. They have started a berry patch and tree fruit orchard, and plan to add broiler chickens and hair sheep.  Recently they purchased land, adding a house, shed and perimeter fencing. Their plans include adding equipment and structures to fit their needs and rehabilitating pastures. Ethan is looking forward to working with a mentor and attending Practical Farmers of Iowa’s events.

“I’m excited to use the extra capital to grow the farm but, most important, I want to be involved in the requirements of the program. It will provide extra motivation to attend PFI events. I know the extra help and encouragement will help the farm!” says Ethan.

Garrett Caryl and Rebecca Lamb

Garrett Caryl has been an aspiring farmer since age three. He followed his dream and now operates G-Man Farms near Colo. Garrett raises organic corn, free-range chickens and organic pigs with his partner Rebecca Lamb. He plans to expand his farm acres and livestock to meet the needs of his customers and community. Garrett is excited to be part of the Savings Incentive Program, to meet and learn from other farms with similar goals while saving for his business development.

“We joined PFI to take advantage of every opportunity offered us and meet other farmers who had similar goals who we could learn from. We thought that the Savings Incentive Program would be a good way to save for our personal financial goals as well as our business financing. Eventually we would like to be able to help give back to the programs that we have participated in.”

Sarah Hanson

Sara Hanson operates Prairie Sky Farm near Wesley. After accumulating experience on other farms out of state, she returned to Iowa in 2008 and purchased land to begin her own vegetable farm. She has been making improvements to her farm to allow her to grow and sell vegetables through community supported agriculture (CSA), farmer’s markets, her local food cooperative and restaurants. Sara is eager to be a part of the Savings Incentive Program for business-planning guidance and production education in addition to the  funds that will help her further mechanize her operation.

“I will use this opportunity to build a better business plan and to learn about production techniques.  I will use the matching funds to mechanize my operation and that will help me be more efficient and profitable.”

Jason Jones

Jason Jones owns Wilted Leaf Farm within the Des Moines city limits. He classifies his nine-tenths-of-an-acre parcel as a testing ground where he raises leafy greens, head lettuce and root crops that he sells through the Iowa Food Cooperative and a local grocery. He is planning on purchasing land east of Des Moines on which to build a financially sustainable, small-scale family farm.

“Our reasons for participating in the program are two-fold: to purchase a cooler to increase post-harvest efficiency, and to participate in activities to develop long-range planning for the farm. We know that participating in the program will be a catalyst for creating a solid business plan that will help me become a successful farmer.”

Eric Madsen

Eric Madsen grew up on his family’s farm near Audubon. He recently returned to the farm to work while starting his own farming operation on land he purchased nearby. He saw a need for custom haying in his area so began a custom haying enterprise. He has started rotational grazing and plans to add niche pork and poultry to his own farm operation in the near future. He is looking forward to the opportunities the Savings Incentive Program will provide to network with other farmers and feels the savings match will greatly help adding additional livestock to his farm.

“I have grown up going to PFI events with my parents and have formed great friendships within the PFI family.  It is easy to be intimidated by the huge industrial farming styles of modern ag, and working with other people with the PFI ’style’ really helps to keep us motivated.  The savings incentive will be a great help in adding an asset to the farm.”

Ryan and Janice Marquardt

Ryan and Janice Marquardt raise broilers, turkeys, a laying flock, hair sheep ewes and cattle between Newton and Pella. Since purchasing land for their farm, Wild Rose Pastures, in winter 2007, Ryan and Janice have begun adding and improving structures to accommodate their growing operation. Ryan plans to make improvements using his savings match that will allow Wild Rose Pastures to increase its growing capacity.

“We want to participate in the program to build a dedicated poultry building and purchase egg-washing equipment to handle larger volumes of eggs, and increase egg storage.”

Alice McGary and Nicholas Leete

Alice McGary and Nicholas Leete are part of Mustard Seed Farm near Ames. Mustard Seed Farm rents them one acre of land where they grow vegetables, herbs and berries. There are no paychecks distributed at Mustard Seed Farm, where 1/3 of its product is sold through community supported agriculture (CSA) to pay for feeding their workers and people in need. Alice and Nicholas will use their match to reinvest in the farm and boost production.

“Mustard Seed Farm runs on a small budget, and the Savings Incentive Program match will make a big impact,” says Alice.

Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders manages Turtle Farm near Granger. This certified-organic fruit-and-vegetable farm supplies food to 170 families through their community supported agriculture (CSA) program, which has been in operation since 1996, one of the first CSAs in Iowa. Turtle Farm also sells food to restaurants, through an on-farm stand, and at a farmer’s market. Through the Savings Incentive Program, Ben wants to purchase farm implements to increase his capital-earning capabilities while planning to take over the operation of Turtle Farm or purchase farmland of his own.

“While I don’t own Turtle Farm, my sole source of income is derived from the farm.  By participating in the SIP program, I hope to purchase a root undercutter (harvesting tool) and a European push seeder to help increase my capital-earning capabilities while at Turtle Farm and to use these tools in my future farming endeavors.”

Joel Winnes

Joel Winnes began farming at 16 when his family moved to an abandoned farm in southeast Minnesota that they turned in to a grass-based dairy. He started as a herdsman for Merlin Gesing’s grass-based dairy in March 2008. Joel is growing his own dairy herd and plans to buy Merlin’s dairy herd spring 2012.

“The SIP program will propel me toward my goal of purchasing a dairy herd. I also like the idea of having a mentor to help me with my business plan. And, I enjoy the learning that goes on at PFI events.”