Published Dec 3, 2014

New book celebrates Practical Farmers

By Teresa Opheim
beginning farmer mentor_3

PFI members Laura Krouse of Abbe Hills Farm and Jennifer Vasquez, of Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative. Writes Bill Cotton: PFI is a group where members come together to help each other be more successful.


Bill Cotton has published a new book, Iowa Roots: Ruminations Upon a Unique Land, Uncommon People that includes a celebration of Practical Farmers.

Writes Bill: “Growing up on a sandy land farm in Texas, as I did, we were accustomed to seeing one farmer’s failure as being another’s opportunity. This also happens and has been a common theme in the Midwest, but Practical Farmers is built around mentoring and organizing in order for everyone to win…. Practical Farmers are doing what many believed was not possible. They are working together to bring back a new culture of success that allows the person who farms two acres to share [with larger farms].

“The old competitive spirit that for so long had isolated farmers is broken down and life-long friendships are forming. These … farm families are doing what Iowans love to do anyway: visiting sites to see new ideas first-hand, sharing good food and fellowship, and educating each other. Networks form, people keep in touch and often seek each other out when there are questions, failures etc.”

The book lays out the early years of PFI as well, when Dick and Sharon Thompson “had a practical vision” and Larry Kallem “knew how to bring people together.”

Also featured Iowa Roots is PFI member Andrew Pittz and his aronia berry enterprise.

To order the book, email Bill at The cost is $20 (tax included) plus postage & handling (approximately $3.00).