Member Spotlight — Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin, of Charles City
Throughout Practical Farmers’ 2017 field day season, we are spotlighting many of the PFI farmers who are graciously giving their time to share their knowledge at these events, as well as members who make the journey to attend them.
Watch practicalfarmers.org and “Practical News,” our weekly email newsletter, for details and updates!
Wendy Johnson and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, returned to Iowa seven years ago so Wendy could farm with her dad. Wendy and her father grow conventional corn and soybeans, hay and sheep near Charles City. They have been using cover crops for five years, and this year they have added oats into the rotation.
Wendy and Johnny also operate Joia Food Farm, raising certified organic row crops, farrow-to-finish pigs, and pastured broilers and layers. They transitioned 30 acres to organic and as of 2016, those acres were certified organic. They have also been making improvements to their pasture, including intensively rotationally grazing their grass-fed sheep flock.
“I care about our planet and what we eat,” says Wendy, who also serves as vice-president of Practical Farmers’ board of directors. “We’re also farmers, so trying to combine conservation efforts with humane and ethically raised meat is important to us.
“We want our daughter – and other kids – to live on this planet for a long time, and the best way is to be good stewards of the land and take conservation seriously.”
Wendy and Johnny are hosting a field day on Thursday, Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where they’ll explore how to manage low-lying areas on the farm, know as potholes, that pool water and often yield poorly during wet years. They’ll also discuss other conservation measures they use on their farm.
To learn more about Wendy and Johnny:
- Listen to this recent podcast interview conducted by PFI staffer Nick Ohde earlier this month
- Read this blog post about a field day they hosted in 2015
- See photos in this blog post, and read about a social they hosted last year
- Listen to this farminar Wendy led with her dad, Erwin, in 2014 on adding another generation to their farm
- Learn about on-farm research Wendy conducted with PFI on neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybeans