Field day at Bridgewater Farm will explore how to manage farm growth and new markets – August 30, Bridgewater

For Release: August 18, 2015

BRIDGEWATER, Iowa — When Dale and Tyler Raasch added fruits and vegetables to Bridgewater Farm, the diversified livestock and produce farm they operate in Adair County, they started small with a few market outlets and slowly expanded as customer demand, market opportunities – and their experience – increased.

Now, the father-son team manages 23 acres of certified organic produce, supplying markets from Lincoln, Neb. to Cedar Rapids that include grocery stores like HyVee and Fareway; specialty stores like Whole Foods and Gateway Market in Des Moines; and restaurants, schools and other institutions. They also sell their products at farmers markets and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business.

Learn how Dale and Tyler manage all these markets, and how they expanded this part of their farm business at a rate they could handle, at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Sunday, Aug. 30, from 3:30-6 p.m. The event – “Sustainable Production and Sales in Local Communities” – is free to attend, and will include a potluck meal after the program. Burgers and a vegetable platter will be provided; guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share, plus their own tableware. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow, [email protected] or (515) 232-5661, by Thursday, Aug. 27.

The field day is sponsored by Gateway Market and Iowa Farmers Union. Bridgewater Farm is located at 2409 Brown Ave., about 4.5 miles north of Bridgewater.

Bridgewater Farm is a 40-acre certified organic farm that includes hay and pasture, fruit trees, berries, asparagus, vegetables, cows, heritage-breed pigs, broilers and laying hens. Attendees will get to tour the farm and learn about the start-up and progress of these various enterprises – including successes and failures. Dale and Tyler will discuss how they started small, grew with demand, found new markets – and how they place an emphasis on relationship-building to help manage these markets.

Guests will learn about getting a foot in the door at grocery stores; managing multiple markets (grocery, CSA, and farmers market) and diverse farm enterprises; creating a high tunnel production plan; using living cover crops as mulch; and organic certification.

Dales says that good communication with managers is central to building a lasting relationship with grocery stores. “I like to talk to the managers every week and ask if there’s a problem with something. Communication is the big key to making this work. You can take your stuff and just drop it off, but if they’re not happy, they won’t keep buying from you.”

Directions from state Route 92: Turn north onto Brown Avenue, which is 13 miles west of Greenfield (turn at Bigelow’s Welding). Continue on Brown Avenue for 3 miles; the farm is on the west side of the road.

From I-80: Take the Adair exit toward Adair, then go south until the highway ends (12 miles from I-80). Continue south on Delta Avenue and turn right (west) on 225th Street. Go 2 miles and turn left (south) onto Brown Avenue; go 1 mile and look for the farm will be on the right (east) side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.

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Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Dale and Tyler Raasch | Bridgewater Farm | (641) 745-5368 – (home); (641) 745-0318 – (Tyler’s cell) | [email protected] | www.bfproduce.com

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]