Published Apr 29, 2019

Farmers invited to join new grazing groups across Iowa

By Tamsyn Jones


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

Meghan Filbert | Livestock Program Manager | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa invites farmers who currently graze livestock of any kind, or hope to in the future, to participate in new farmer-led grazing groups the organization is forming across the state.

For many farmers, networking with their peers is the preferred way to learn about different production strategies or possible solutions to farming challenges. While many resources exist in Iowa to help connect farmers to one another, not as many are targeted specifically at farmers who graze livestock.

The new grazing groups aim to address this need for more peer-to-peer grazing support. Participating is free, and farmers do not need to be Practical Farmers members.

“Our members have shared feedback asking us to initiate these grazing groups so they can learn from each other on a regional basis,” says Meghan Filbert, livestock program manager for PFI. “These groups will provide networking opportunities for graziers who want to connect with other like-minded farmers and may not realize there are others in their area doing what they’re doing.”

The first gatherings will take place in May and June, each hosted by a farmer, and will run from 4:30-7 p.m. Dinner will also be provided at each. The group will take a pasture walk together, and discuss spring grazing management on lush pastures, first-cut hay, planting summer annuals and more.

Part of the agenda will also include identifying a farmer leader for the group who will take over coordination of future gatherings. To sign up, visit the grazing groups page on PFI’s website and click the RSVP button for the specific event of interest.

One group, the South Central Iowa Grazing Group, existed before PFI started working to create grazing groups statewide and already has an established group leader and structure. The graziers agreed to open their group to others so more knowledge can be shared – they want to keep learning and visiting other farms.

“Sometimes you begin wondering if what you’re doing is worthwhile or paying off,” says Andy Welch, the leader of the south-central group who operates Welch Family Farms near Grant City, Missouri. “But being around people doing similar things really keeps me motivated – and I hope will help keep others inspired as well.”

The inaugural gathering of each grazing group will take place on the following dates:

  • May 9Lamoni – South Central Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by May 6

Hosted by: Chad Hensley | Big Creek Farms (200 East 10th St., Lamoni, 50140)

  • May 16 – Lockridge – Southeast Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by May 13

Hosted by: Tim Diers | Rainbow Farms (2126 Watercress Blvd., Lockridge, 52635)

  • May 22 – Remsen – Northwest Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by May 20

Hosted by: Robert Alexander | (5086 Lily Ave., Remsen, 51050)

  • May 23 – Maxwell – Central Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by May 20

Hosted by: Bruce Carney | Carney Family Farms (13602 NE 96th St., Maxwell, 50161)

  • May 30 – Oxford – Eastern Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by May 27

Hosted by: Doug Darrow | Rapid Creek Ranch (3727 Calkins Ave SW, Oxford, 52322)

  • June 9 – Charles City – Northeast Iowa Grazing Group | RSVP by June 6

Hosted by: Wendy Johnson & Johnny Rafkin | Joia Food Farm (2038 March Ave., Charles City, 50616)

After this first gathering, the hope is that each grazing group will become a self-sustaining entity, with group members deciding how often to meet, which topics to cover and other logistical details.

Practical Farmers of Iowa will continue to provide support as needed, and will be available to help coordinate and finance special resources, such as bringing in speakers requested by group members.

For questions about the grazing groups, contact Meghan Filbert, (515) 232-5661 or

The grazing groups are made possible by funding from Cedar Tree Foundation.


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