Published Feb 10, 2011

Practical Farmers of Iowa hosts annual Next Generation Retreat for beginning farmers, builds community, supports new Iowa farms

By Luke Gran

Do you need to network with other beginners about overcoming challenges of starting your farm? Two weeks ago, Practical Farmers of Iowa held the annual Next Generation Retreat for beginning farmers on several aspects of business planning to do just that.

In attendance were over 30 beginning farmers from a representative sample of the diversity of enterprises found in our beginning farmer network such as grain, vegetables, cut flowers, mixed livestock (sheep, swine, goat, poultry) and farmstead cheese farms. Three experienced farmer speakers delivered the programming and all attendees received a free business planning workbook “Building a Sustainable Business“.

Perhaps more importantly, attendees networked with each other, breaking down the isolation they report experiencing at their home farms around the state. Beginners asked any questions they had about farming successfully, from practical bookkeeping matters, to legal structures for the farm, in addition to production and marketing tips.

At all Practical Farmers of Iowa events, farmer-to-farmer networking is the focus. Farmers share their knowledge with each other, receive encouragement and support. We hope you will join us this December 8-9, 2011 for the annual Next Generation Retreat.

For the past two years we have held the retreat near Montour, IA. Where do you think we should hold the retreat next year?