Published Oct 28, 2009

Small Potatoes Farm: Providing many benefits

By Teresa Opheim

PFI member Rick Hartmann is featured “above the fold”, ie top story in today’s Des Moines Register. He has signed up for the Conservation Stewardship Program. The article is a good summary of his and Stacy’s Small Potatoes Farm and of a program PFI hopes will become a cornerstone of federal farm policy. Photos here are from Rick and Stacy’s farm.

Today, Sarah Carlson is busy lining up last-minute participation for a deadline on commenting on the “CSP.”

It’s appropriate for federal policy to reward conservation farmers for their efforts. After all, they provide all of us much more than food and fiber. They provide an astonishing array of ecosystem services, especially in a state like Iowa that is so intensively farmed and privately owned.

Farmers manage water flow. They increase genetic diversity. They can mitigate climate change. They improve water quality, and they enhance habitats, build soils, and produce diverse crops.

Rick Hartmann puts it well in the Register story: “There’s a lot of tax money that goes to support farming in this country,” he said.”I’m hoping we might evolve a little bit more toward the European model where the consuming public really wants to support local agriculture, small and mid-size farms and keep that farming and food culture an important part of their national heritage.”