Published Jul 26, 2018

Field day at Grinnell Heritage Farm will explore ways to add beneficial insect habitat to fruit and vegetable farms – Aug. 10, in Grinnell

By Tamsyn Jones

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For Release: July 26, 2018


Andrew and Melissa Dunham | Grinnell Heritage Farm | (641) 990-0018 | |

Tamsyn Jones | Outreach & Publications Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

GRINNELL, Iowa — For fruit and vegetable farmers, beneficial insects and other bugs – like native bees, ground beetles, lacewings and even some spiders – play a vital role in the success of their operations by helping to pollinate crops and prey on crop pests.

To ensure healthy populations of these species, more farmers – like Andrew and Melissa Dunham, of Grinnell Heritage Farm – are strategically planting habitat designed to attract these beneficials to their farms.

Andrew and Melissa raise 25 acres of certified organic vegetables, herbs and flowers on their 80-acre heritage farm in Grinnell. They use several strategies to attract a diverse community of insects to their farm, including beetle banks, native plants and hedge rows, among others.

They will share their experience at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Friday, Aug. 10, from noon-3 p.m., on their farm in Grinnell (1933 Penrose St., on the northeast edge of town). The event – “Planning and Installing Beneficial Insect Habitat” – is being held in partnership with Xerces Society, and is free to attend.

The afternoon will include a wood-fired pizza dinner at Grinnell Heritage Farm at 5 p.m., featuring farm-raised ingredients, and the option to go on a guided prairie walk at Grinnell College’s Conard Environmental Research Area from 3:30-4:30 p.m. while the Dunhams prep for dinner.

RSVPs are requested for the meal to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by Monday, Aug. 6. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Farmers Union and MOSA Organic Certification.

During the field day, Andrew and Melissa will show and discuss the strategies they use on their farm to attract beneficial insects, including beetle banks that were installed among their organic vegetable fields in 2012. Other topics they will cover include:

  • beneficial insect diversity
  • establishing and managing habitat
  • habitat site selection
  • native plant species and communities
  • starting native plants
  • hedge rows
  • insect identification

Sarah Foltz Jordan, a pollinator conservation specialist with Xerces Society, will join the conversation, providing additional insight from her experience with on-farm habitat projects around the Midwest. During the break between the field day and dinner, attendees are invited to carpool to CERA for a prairie walk led by Elizabeth Hill and Sue Kolbe, both with Grinnell College.

Directions from Grinnell: Take U.S. 6 east out of Grinnell for about 1 mile. Turn north (left) onto Penrose Street and go about 0.8 mile. The farm will be on the left. (Directions to CERA for the prairie walk will be given at the field day).

Practical Farmers’ 2018 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; Blue River Organic Seed; Cascadian Farms; Center for Rural Affairs; Farm Credit Services of America; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Green Cover Seed; Green Thumb Commodities; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; Sunrise Foods International; The DeLong Company; The Fertrell Company; The Scoular Company; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.


Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit