Practical Farmers of Iowa announces the newest class of beginning farmers enrolled in the Savings Incentive Program

For Release: November 27, 2013


AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa has selected 21 beginning farmers to enroll into its Savings Incentive Program.

This is the fourth round of enrollees, bringing the total number of beginning farmers being served by the program to 80.

The two-year program pairs beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced mentors; provides targeted learning opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money and receive matching funds while learning how to build a profitable farm.

The new enrollees, who will be in the Savings Incentive Program from January 2014 through December 2015, represent a diverse mix of farm enterprises and locations in Iowa. Over half have livestock of some kind, from pastured chickens, beef and pork to goats and sheep. One beginner is starting a sheep-and-goat dairy – one of the first in Iowa – and another aims to start a bison ranch.

Several have orchards or grow berries and other small fruits, and many also have vegetable or mixed horticulture enterprises. One beginner is cultivating a niche in edible beans, two raise nursery stock, one is growing herbs, four grow cut flowers, one plans to grow pumpkins and one plans to raise bedding plants. Several enrollees raise row crops and small grains, and four currently have or plan to do value-added on-farm processing, from on-farm flour milling to commercial cider pressing and cheese. In addition, one enrollee is a recent immigrant from Burundi, another from Bhutan.

The 21 new Savings Incentive Program enrollees, listed alphabetically, are (a separate list organized by county is included below):

  1. Tyler Albers – Waverly
  2. Narad Bastola – Des Moines
  3. Deb Draper – Eddyville
  4. Darin and Arlene Enderton – Plainfield
  5. Janna Feldman – Honey Creek
  6. Muzika Gahetano – Des Moines
  7. Jason Grimm – Coralville
  8. Chad Hensley – Lamoni
  9. David and Annette Hill – Holy Cross
  10. Phillip Jensen – Ida Grove
  11. Marcus and Emma Johnson – Central City
  12. Wendy Johnson – Charles City
  13. Jason Kerr – DeWitt
  14. Tyler Magnuson and Caitie Caughey – Hancock
  15. Amber Miller – Story City
  16. Steve and Sue Quail – Spencer
  17. Matt Roe – Allerton
  18. Teresa Stecker – West Liberty
  19. Tony Thompson – Elkhart
  20. Rory Van Wyk – Ankeny
  21. Eric Veach – Zwingle

Jason Kerr is an army veteran who raises row crops and pick-your-own blueberries at Kerr’s Berry Farm near DeWitt. He says he is looking forward to the networking and learning opportunities he’ll have access to through the Savings Incentive Program – as well as the exposure to other farmers with similar interests.

“The money incentive is great, but I also like to have a little bit of structure and motivation,” he says. “It’s hard for me to find the time or get excited about doing something online, but knowing I’ll be talking to good people and learning got me more excited. I didn’t know there were groups like Practical Farmers where there were so many like-minded people and so much support for what I’m doing. The knowledge to gain is the real payoff to being in this program.” Amber Miller raises pork, chickens and goats, as well as row crops and hay, near Story City with her husband Kendel. While both came from farming families, they hadn’t been directly farming for several years until an opportunity arose to purchase a neighbor’s land. She says she is excited about learning how to farm more efficiently through the Savings Incentive Program.

“We’re pretty new at this, and we want to have some outside guidance, direction and fresh ideas,” Amber says. “We want to learn how to expand our customer base, explore new marketing ideas and streamline the overall efficiency of how we operate. For instance, maybe we don’t have our lot set up the way it should be. Or maybe somebody has a better idea about where we should put the chickens. I want to work smarter, not harder.” The Savings Incentive Program works by encouraging enrollees to save up to $100 per month for two years. Upon completion of all program requirements, participants will earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800 to use towards the purchase of a farm asset. The program is part of Practical Farmers’ Next Generation Program, which helps more than 1,500 beginning farmers in Iowa and surrounding states network and learn from each other and experienced farmers through field days, farminars, workshops, retreats and other events. Practical Farmers will open applications for a fifth round of participants next fall.

The Savings Incentive Program is made possible through contributions to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s “100 Days, 100 Beginners” campaign, the Cedar Tree Foundation and an Assets for Independence grant from the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

About Practical Farmers

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For more details, call (515) 232-5661 or visit practicalfarmers.org.