Published Aug 9, 2013

Practical Farmers signs promote community…and more are coming!

By Marc Strobbe

You may have noticed Practical Farmers signs on the roadways the past year. Several variants of the signs are up in almost 40 counties across the state. The tally of membership signs, paved road signs, and billboards is about to break 80 for over 110,000 “average daily views” as determined by the DOT.

That is a lot of exposure for us and draws attention to the member farms that host the signs. In the office it is common to hear “I saw a PFI sign on a trip to…” and occasionally new membership forms point out that they joined after seeing a sign. It is exciting and rewarding that the signs are engaging our proud members to spread the word about Practical Farmers of Iowa.

During the sign project a theme emerged from chats with members. Something related to a “sense of community among farmers” almost always gets brought-up. In some cases it is positive; “We are lucky to have many PFI members in this area…” or “I already see two every time I go to town and want one here.” Others cases are negative; “There used to be 5 more farms in our view here…” or “Take me off the list, I don’t want to get the neighbors riled-up again.” Either way the signs touch on that theme of community. They help members to promote who they are, what they are proud of, and hopefully to engage their neighbors.

Often members express frustration that their neighbors or uncle or in-laws or whoever has never even heard of PFI. That does seem offensive considering the stats of almost 30 years(!) of Practical Farmers. As of last year, 235  different PFI farmers have conducted 1,117 on-farm trials! Our members have hosted 764 Field Days on their farms! There have been 76 Farminars on almost as many topics. Our membership is over 2,300! There are many sons and daughters of long-time members underway with their own farming efforts.

We are about to start a second round of Practical Farmers signs that will be installed this fall. Take the opportunity to become part of the community. Info about how to apply for a sign is coming next week.