Published Aug 22, 2018

Red Fern Farm field day will highlight how to grow profitable tree crops – Sept. 5, near Wapello

By Tamsyn Jones

For Release: August 22, 2018


Kathy Dice and Tom Wahl | Red Fern Farm | (319) 729-5905 | |

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

WAPELLO, Iowa — Iowa’s climate and soils are well known for their ability to grow corn and soybeans – but they are also well-suited to grow a variety of tree crops.

“Tree crops like chestnuts, pawpaws, American persimmon, heartnuts and Asian pears are all suitable for forest farming systems in Iowa – and they are a very environmentally sound way to make a profit off your land,” says Kathy Dice, co-owner of Red Fern Farm, an agroforestry farm near Wapello.

Kathy and her husband, Tom Wahl, have been raising a variety of nut, fruit and berry crops, as well as medicinal forest plants, at Red Fern Farm for more than 30 years.

The family-run nursery and farm is the site of ongoing research on a variety of tree crops and forest farming systems. In addition to marketing their crops through U-pick, they raise and sell container-grown tree seedlings and medicinal planting roots suitable for the Midwest.

Kathy and Tom will share their experience raising and marketing a variety of tree crops at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Wednesday, Sept. 5, from 1-4 p.m., on their farm near Wapello (13882 I Ave., about 8 miles north of town).

The event – “Tree Crop Field Class” – is free, but attendance is limited to 50 people. Registration is required to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by Monday, Sept. 3. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union and Sustainable Iowa Land Trust.

Attendees will learn about the site requirements, production, maintenance needs and marketing possibilities for a variety of tree crops, including chestnut, pawpaw, American persimmon, heartnut and Asian pear.

Tom and Kathy will lead guests on a tour through their agroforestry farm and discuss how they market their crops through U-pick. There will also be an opportunity to sample some of the non-traditional crops featured throughout the day.

Directions: From the junction of U.S. 61 and IA Hwy 92, travel into Grandview (eastward) to the four-way stop at Jackson and Main streets. Turn right (south) onto Main Street and continue south out of town; the road will turn to gravel.

When the road intersects with 145th Street, ease left and continue about 1 mile. A large tree planting will be on the right. The field day will be in the tree planting just off the gravel road.

Parking note: Guests are asked to park along the gravel road on either side of the farm entrance, or travel 400 feet down the farm land for Red Fern Farm. Please do not park in the neighbors’ gravel parking area on the right.

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