Published Jun 22, 2009

Strawberries and Ice Cream, Field Day Style

By Sally Worley

Gary Guthrie served up farm fresh strawberries and homemade ice cream to roughly 60 visitors to kick off his June 13 field day. This was a delicious treat, and justification enough to travel to his farm on a beautiful Saturday!It was also a treat to visit Gary’s farm. Not only is he a great speaker, his farm is an inspiration, alive with diverse, clean, healthy crops. Conversations were abundant with practical tips, such as rotations, seed sources, schedules, cultivars, and cultural practices.Other highlights included:
Skystream: Gary and Nancy recently installed a 70 foot wind tower on their farm. The goal is to sustain their farm and home energy needs with this investment. Gary and Nancy have a running credit with the energy company, so that extra energy created by the tower is banked and available for times when energy needs on the farm are greater than energy produced by the wind tower. So far, Gary is very happy with his new wind tower, and optimistic about the future of energy independence on his farm.Seeds: Dr. Susana Goggi of ISU talked about her natural seed treatment research. She is trialing essential oils to optimize seed germination in peas and soybeans across Iowa. Gary has a pea treatment under way on his farm.
Melons: Dr. Mark Gleason, also of ISU, discussed his research evaluating extended duration row covers to reduce disease and pest pressures in melons, winter squash, and cucumbers. This is a substantial problem for fruit and vegetable growers, especially those who do not use synthetic chemicals in their systems. Gary is trialing extended row covers for muskmelon on his farm. So far, the trials show great potential.
Potato beetles: The Colorado potato beetle has arrived at Gary’s farm. He “allowed” field day attendees to participate in a contest to see who could pick the most potato beetles off of the plants in one minute. There were many hardworking pickers, but Suzanne Castello out-beetled her opponents and went home with a new Growing Harmony Farms shirt.