Published Jun 24, 2021

the Practical Farmer: Summer 2021

From the Executive Director

As Seasons Change, Anticipation Blooms


The Joy of Flowers

For some members, growing flowers is about creativity, sustainability and connecting with community.

PFI Leaders

Financially Strong Through a Tough Year

Thanks to robust member and donor support, PFI stayed buoyant through the unique challenges of 2020.

Beginning Farmers

Multiple Approaches to Mentorship

Learning how to build support networks can boost the chances of farm success

Summer Events Season

“Catching Up” and “Live From the Farm”

Read an overview of the in-person and virtual events we have planned for this summer.

Farm Transfer

Honoring Past and Future

Through FindAFarmer, landowner Kathleen Hunt and land seekers Jacob and Lindsay Bolson were able to connect over shared values and visions.

Small Grains

Building Soil and Community

Anne and Landon Plagge are using their cover crop and small-grain expertise to strengthen their farm and local community.

Livestock & Rural Health

A Keystone of Rural Vitality

A student’s research shows how grazing livestock benefit farmers and the land.


Protecting Pollinators

Adding native habitat to farms can help pollinators adapt to climate change.

Cover Crops

A New Cover Crop App

PFI will release its new “Find Cover Crops” mobile app in time for fall planting.

Member Book Review

Review of Lance Foster’s “The Indians of Iowa”

PFI News


From top to bottom: Edd Eshelman and Joe Cavan of Liberty Farms and Meat mounted their farm sign next to their cattle pasture and vegetable garden in Clarke County, Iowa; a “Proud Member” mailbox sign adorns Steve and Marilyn Kofmehl’s Zing N Berry Farm sign in front of their aronia berry field in Dallas County, Iowa; Larry Neppl poses by his new sign in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

New PFI Signs Dot the Countryside

More than 200 members receive updated signs featuring PFI’s new logo and look.

After PFI’s visual rebranding in late 2019, it was time to get new mailbox and farm signs out to our members that featured our new logo and look.

After our graphic design and photography coordinator, Sarah Krumm, created new designs, we let all PFI members know about the opportunity. Throughout winter 2020, members had a chance to express their interest in receiving a sign. This spring, we distributed more than 200 signs to members across Iowa.

These signs are an excellent advertisement for Practical Farmers of Iowa, and we appreciate our members’ enthusiasm for showing their pride in being part of our strong network of farmers, landowners and friends of farmers.

We hope these vibrant signs will spark interest, generate conversations and grow our network.

If you feel you missed out on this opportunity to display your appreciation for PFI in your neighborhood, please contact PFI’s membership manager, Steve Carlson, at If we no longer have signs available, we will keep your interest on file for the next order.

Our FY2020 Annual Report is Online

2020 Annual Report CoverMembers should have received a copy of our 2020 annual report in the mail, but the report is also online for those who wish to view there or share the link with others.

Inside, you’ll read about PFI leaders; our growing supply chain relationships; how PFI members stayed connected and supported one another during the challenges of COVID-19, a derecho and a drought; our on-farm research; and more.

Our annual report is an easy-to-read overview of our activities from the previous year, including stories about our members, updates on our programs, financial information and more. We hope you all feel proud of what we have accomplished together.

Labor4Learning Jobs Still Open

If you are interested in gaining first-hand experience working on a farm, there are still positions open on farms across Iowa through PFI’s Labor4Learning program.

This program is designed for beginning farmers seeking employment and additional training in farm management and production skills. Experienced PFI farmers vetted by a committee of PFI members serve as trainers, and represent a range of enterprises and production practices.

To view the list of open positions, visit

Questions? Contact Celize Christy at

New Webpage for PFI Directories

Online directories help you support PFI members.

Did you know that, along with the individuals who make up PFI’s membership, dozens of companies and organizations also pay annual member dues? As a new member benefit for our organizational members, we’ve created an online “Business and Organization Directory” to showcase the products and services they offer.

Use this directory to find a wide range of agricultural products and services – everything from seeds and equipment to educational resources and legal services. These organizations care about PFI’s work and the farmers we serve, so please use this resource to support them!

Our “Local Foods Directory” lists PFI farmers and farm businesses who market a range of products, from produce and livestock, to flowers and eggs, to agroforestry and value-added products – and more. We also maintain directories of cover crop- and small-grain-related services. Our “Cover Crop Business Directory” lists cover crop seed suppliers and seeding services in Iowa and beyond, as well as custom cover crop spraying and seed cleaning. Our “Small Grains Business Directory” lists the location and contact information of seed buyers, grain buyers and seed cleaners, as well as the small grains species they buy.

You can find all of these directories – along with instructions for how to get your farm or business added to any that are relevant to what you offer – at

Read PFI Website in 17 Languages

We recently took another step toward making PFI content more accessible to a broader range of people. Our homepage now has a “Language” button, located in the top-left corner, that lets visitors select one of 17 different languages (18 options, if factoring in the choice of Chinese traditional or simplified characters) in which to view content on the site.

We are trying to make our communication more inclusive, and the ability to view our site in a language other than English is one of several steps we’re taking. In the future, we may add additional language options. We are also working on a Spanish landing page for the website, having more content professionally translated into Spanish (like our 2021 summer events guide), developing guidelines to make our writing more inclusive and offering more events in Spanish, bilingually or with live translation.

If you have questions or feedback, please contact Sally Worley at

Meet PFI’s New Livestock Coordinator

Brynnen Gardner is the newest addition to the Practical Farmers staff.

Brynnen Gardner Headshot 5.21.2021 forWebPractical Farmers is pleased to welcome Brynnen Gardner, who joined the Practical Farmers of Iowa staff in May 2021 as our new livestock coordinator. Brynnen grew up in Belmont, Michigan, on a small, diversified livestock operation. She was a member of 4-H, competed in meat judging and exhibited cattle and pigs. These experiences sparked her love for livestock and agriculture and led her to pursue a college degree at Iowa State University.

Brynnen graduated from Iowa State in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a double minor in political science and public relations. On campus, she was involved in the Dairy Science Club, the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council, Block and Bridle, peer mentoring within the Department of Animal Science and the Salt Company.

Throughout college, she was able to witness diverse farming practices traveling to (and living in) multiple states, working on private and university farms, taking an array of animal science classes and interning for multiple companies. Through her college career, Brynnen became passionate about communicating agriculture’s sustainability story and the specific ways livestock can further enrich our lives.

In her free time, Brynnen enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring the great outdoors, savoring a good cup of coffee, hanging out with cows and playing with her two Labrador retrievers.

Slew of New Research Reports

PFI’s Cooperators’ Program team has been hard at work analyzing data from 2020 on-farm research and demonstration projects. More than a dozen new research reports have been posted online exploring questions such as how different potting soils affect seedling yields; the effect of early-season mechanical weed control in oats; how grazing Conservation Reserve Program land affects soil health; and more. See all the latest research at

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