Published Jun 24, 2021

As Seasons Change, Anticipation Blooms

By Sally Worley

I write this with spring bulbs in full bloom, asparagus emerging and cover crops exhibiting my favorite color – that vibrant green that can’t be replicated outside of spring. But by the time you read this, those spring bulbs will be merely a memory, replaced by summer flowers. The cover crops will be replaced by cash crops. And both of our summer event series will be underway.

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PFI Executive Director Sally Worley poses by blooming tulips, whose early-spring blooms remind us that winter has ended and brighter days have arrived.

“the Practical Farmer” magazine creation is a collective labor of love. First, staff send ideas to Tamsyn. She and Nick compile these ideas into a draft magazine plan, and Tamsyn sends out final assignments. Staff turn in draft articles to Tamsyn, who edits each one. Then, Sarah Krumm and Tamsyn share laying out articles into spreads. Nick and I edit, Tamsyn makes final changes, the magazine goes to print and then it reaches your mailboxes.

This means that as staff, we strive to predict the seasons and circumstances two-plus months in advance as we come up with topics. Over the past year, this time lag has proved a bit more thought-provoking as we have adapted so that our services continued amidst COVID-19. This summer, I am delighted that we are meeting again in person, via our “Catching Up” events. And, per your request, we are still offering some virtual events, including our new summer series “Live From the Farm.” See pages 14-15 for more details about these series.

COVID-19 has kept us on our toes with planning and adaptation. While overwhelming at times, these skills have made PFI more malleable as an organization, which is important in serving our members – and is also a key component of resiliency. The pandemic, coupled with civic unrest, political division, a derecho and a drought, has also underscored that PFI is needed more than ever. Daily, our members embody PFI’s values of welcoming everyone in a spirit of curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community.

Furthermore, as COVID-19 highlighted how fragile our concentrated food system is, PFI members have been leading the way providing food in a more localized, adaptive supply chain. We can all work together to ensure that these diversified local food systems are valued and supported beyond the pandemic.

While PFI, like many of you, was consumed by adaptation this last year, not all things were pandemic-related. As we cycle into our new strategic plan, we are adding many exciting endeavors to our plate. The first six months of our strategic plan has largely been about organizing and systems. This work is inspiring to those of us immersed in it, as we see how much opportunity we are going to unharness to grow as an organization, and to take on some new directions to create an Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities.

Here is a smattering of our new directions: We are meeting with partners across Iowa to work together to better serve the land access needs of beginning farmers. We are working to serve a more diverse membership. We are expanding our programming for non-operator landowners, who own more than half of Iowa’s farmland. We are redefining our role in regional food system work. And we want to make PFI a household name, so all farmers and eaters can learn about all of the innovative things our members are doing as we more effectively build resilient farms and communities.

You, our members, are our biggest inspiration as PFI blooms into new areas of work. Please reach out to provide us seeds of ideas that we can nurture as we venture into new seasons together.

Sally Worley

“When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome.”
– Kristin Armstrong