Red Oak-area farmland owners featured in new book

For Release: September 15, 2016

RED OAK, Iowa — Red Oak farmland owner Margaret McQuown and her husband Steve Turman are among the more than 25 farmland owners featured in a new book, “The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letters Project.”

The book gathers the letters and stories of families about the land they cherish – how they acquired it, what they treasure most about it and their hopes for its future. Some of the writers descend from families who have owned a particular patch of earth since the 1800s, while others became farmland owners more recently. Some are no longer farmland owners at all, because after careful thought about what matters most to them, they sold their land to the next generation of farmers.

Margaret and Steve “are proud to be making our retirement home the farm that has been in my family for over 115 years,” Margaret writes in the book. She documents significant memories from growing up on the farm, including swinging on the rope in the barn, swimming in the ponds and playing in the creek. She discusses how her college graduation present “was a one-way ticket to New York City”, where she started a career in the fashion, marketing, advertising and fundraising industries and how she and Steve decided to make their way back to Iowa in 2012.

Today Margaret and Steve are improving conservation on the farmland, including restoring native prairie and planting 1,500 trees and shrubs in a riparian buffer along the creek that flows through the land. They also use cover crops on the cropped land and “have a personal vendetta against invasive non-native species,” as Margaret says.

Both Margaret and Steve write that their top goals are to conserve and improve the soil, increase biodiversity, improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat.

Teresa Opheim, Farm Transfer Program director with Practical Farmers of Iowa, compiled the volume and says: “We are so pleased that so many farmland owners like Maggie and Steve are willing to share their stories for this book. They are leaders in tackling farmland succession issues, which are affecting so many people. Forty percent of America’s farmland is owned by those ages 65 and older, so now more than ever, it is time for farmland owners to think through the legacy they want to leave behind.”

The book is receiving national attention. “The Future of Family Farms is a timely and important new book,” says Julia Freedgood of the American Farmland Trust. “The Practical Farmers’ stories are both moving and relevant, reinforcing the need for families not only to have shared commitment but also a vision and plan for the future – whether they’ve been farming for more than a hundred years or are beginning farmers.”

According to Jim Habana Hafner of Land for Good, based in New Hampshire, “PFI and its members are an inspiration! They remind us all that family, community and stewardship are at the heart of farming. Their stories are a call to action to everyone who ‘belongs to the land’: Start the conversation today about your farm’s legacy.”

To order the book, visit www.uiowapress.org/books/2016-fall. Help for writing your own farm legacy letter is available at www.practicalfarmers/org/farmtransfer.

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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.

Contacts:

Teresa Opheim | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

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