Published Jul 27, 2017

Member Spotlight — Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin, of Charles City

By Tamsyn Jones

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 and “Practical News,” our weekly email newsletter, for details and updates!

Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin
Joia Food Farm
Members since 2011
Charles City, IA

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.

Learn more about the field day here (and be sure to RSVP for the meal by Monday, July 31! You can contact Debra Boekholder at (515) 232-5661 or

To learn more about Wendy and Johnny: