Published Feb 11, 2020

Solon farmer Carmen Black and Rodale scientist Kristine Lang join PFI’s board of directors; three others re-elected to fill farmer slots

By Tamsyn Jones


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

AMES, Iowa — Solon farmer Carmen Black and Rodale Institute scientist Kristine Lang, of Brandon, are the newest additions to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s board of directors. They were among five individuals elected in January by Practical Farmers members to join or renew their tenure on the 12-person board of directors.

The other three elected are farmers representing different regions of Iowa, including Ann Franzenburg of Van Horne; Wendy Johnson of Charles City; and Gayle Olson of Winfield. The board elections took place during PFI’s 2020 annual conference in Ames.

Carmen Black operates Sundog Farm and Local Harvest CSA near Solon. She farms with her sister, Maja, raising vegetables for 200 families and grazing a small flock of sheep. Carmen grew up near Solon, and returned to Iowa to farm after living out of state for a few years. She worked for Susan Jutz, founder of Local Harvest CSA, and purchased her farm (formerly known as ZJ Farm) and CSA business in 2016.

“I’m excited to join the PFI board because I love the culture of curiosity fostered by PFI,” Carmen says. “I really look forward to the opportunity to get to know more PFI members from throughout the state.”

Kristine Lang is an extension scientist for the Rodale Institute Midwest Organic Center in Marion, which provides resources, technical support and localized research for farmers looking to implement or expand organic operations in the Midwest.

Kristine recently earned her doctorate in horticulture and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. She credits her PFI membership with improving her research, enhancing her professional and personal growth and helping her form important friendships.

“I’m excited to serve on the board of Practical Farmers because I know PFI members drive on-farm innovation and strengthen their local communities,” Kristine says.

With their election, Carmen began her first term on Practical Farmers’ board as a farmer at-large director and Kristine began her first term as a friend-of-farmer at-large director.

­The other board members on the docket were all re-elected to their current positions on the board.

  • Ann Franzenburg was re-elected to her third term as a farmer director for District 3 (Northeast Iowa). She and her husband Eric are lifetime PFI members who have owned and operated Pheasant Run Farm near Van Horne since 1994. Together, they run a diversified operation that includes conventional row crops; cut flowers; and certified organic fruit, vegetables and medicinal herbs.
  • Wendy Johnson was re-elected to her third term as a representative for District 2 (North Central Iowa). She also serves as board president. Wendy and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, own and operate Jóia Food Farm, a diverse organic grain and livestock farm near Charles City that includes pastures, organic grains, eggs, poultry, lamb and pork. Wendy also helps manage her family’s conventional corn and soybean farm.
  • Gayle Olson was re-elected to her second term as a representative for District 5 (Southeast Iowa). She and her husband, Jeff, are lifetime members of PFI near Winfield. Their operation includes conventional and organic acres, and they grow a variety of row crops, small grains, alfalfa and beef cattle. Gayle also serves as the assistant to the director for Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH).

Practical Farmers board members serve in many capacities, from ensuring PFI is fiscally sound and our programs remain effective and farmer-focused, to providing leadership, advice and direction to staff.

These individuals are among the hundreds of Practical Farmers of Iowa members who serve in leadership roles within the organization, working in ways as diverse as hosting field days, conducting on-farm research, speaking with the media, serving on committees, volunteering at events, mentoring beginning farmers – and more.


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