the Practical Farmer: Spring 2022
From the Executive Director
Sustainable Ag Achievement Award
For over 25 years, Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf have helped lead and grow the local foods movement in north central Iowa
Angela Smith is using native habitat to build resilience and adapt her farm – and the critters who call it home – to a changing climate
Annual Conference Photo Highlights
A former farmer responds to the stark findings of a Pasa Sustainable Agriculture report
Retired ISU professor Matt Liebman made a career out of listening to and learning from farmers
Landowner Jane Shey connects with tenants to restore the land.
Read five PFI members’ experiences of water’s healing, harrowing and humorous potential. The stories were first delivered live during our 2022 annual conference.
Beginning farmers Beth Hoffman and John Hogeland are working to build a farm that sustains people, nature and communities
Meet the newest class of participants in PFI’s Savings Incentive Program.
Learn about PFI’s organizational restructure, and our evolution to continue creating farm and landscape change.
Member Book Review
“Bet The Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America” – Reviewed by Susan Kasal Young
New Faces and Roles at PFI
Meet the newest additions to Practical Farmers’ team
Taylor Hintch – Field Crops Education Coordinator
Taylor Hintch, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, joined Practical Farmers of Iowa in January 2022 as the field crops education coordinator. In this role, Taylor helps the farmer-led education department facilitate events and engage with farmers raising various field crops. She previously worked with PFI through Green Iowa AmeriCorps in the summer of 2019.
Taylor’s first experience with agriculture was as a member of the Douglas Dreamers 4-H Club in Fort Dodge. But it was her affiliation with the World Food Prize after attending youth institutes and as a Wallace-Carver fellow that sparked her interest in sustainable agriculture. In 2019, Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in global resource systems with concentrations in sustainability and horticulture. While at ISU, Taylor spent three years working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on organic maize research exploring the nutrient content of organic corn for livestock feed. In the summer of 2018, she worked with an organic zucchini research team at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. She has also worked in different youth education program roles, and most recently worked as a grower in a central Iowa wholesale greenhouse.
Taylor enjoys cooking, making new things or giving old things new life, gardening and spending quality time with her two cats, Max and Ollie. She would like to get back to her love of traveling as soon as possible. In addition to her time spent in Germany, Taylor visited England, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands. With all of her travels, Iowa is still Taylor’s favorite place.
Kayla Koether – Senior Farm Viability Manager
Kayla Koether joined PFI in February 2022 as the senior farm viability manager. In this role, she Ieads the new farm viability team that tackles an array of emerging initiatives at PFI: providing personalized assistance to farmers to meet their farm goals; working with agricultural supply chain partners to grow key markets; and shaping the policies that encourage resilient farms to thrive.
A longtime PFI member, Kayla acquired her love for intensive rotational grazing on her family’s fifth-generation farm in Clayton County, Iowa, where she also developed her passion for vibrant farms and rural communities. That passion led her to design an independent major studying international agriculture and rural development at Grinnell College.
Prior to joining PFI, Kayla was a food systems specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in northeast Iowa, where she helped farmers and food hubs create robust business plans, build communities of peers and develop the local food system. Kayla has been trained as a food business model optimization consultant by the Food Finance Institute at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has worked to help farmers invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Winneshiek Energy District.
Kayla and her partner, Landon, continue to expand their own small herd of beef cattle. When she’s not tending livestock or working on building projects, you can find Kayla reading, practicing yoga, traveling, horseback riding or hiking scenic trails in the Driftless Region.
Mike Roelf – Information Systems Manager
Michael Roelf joined Practical Farmers of Iowa in March 2022 as the new information systems manager. In this role, Mike will manage and improve PFI’s IT platforms, equipping our staff with the digital tools we need to carry out our mission.
Michael was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa. He has many memories of trips from Iowa City to Cedar County, Iowa, visiting his family on farms near Tipton and Clarence. Michael and his wife, Rosemary, purchased part of her family farm in Johnson County, Iowa, where they have converted from row crops to vegetables and started a new farmer incubator.
Throughout this process, they used many PFI resources from and drew on the experiences of its members when acquiring land and planning how to use and conserve it. Prior to joining PFI, Mike spent 35 years working in information systems for education, manufacturing and financial services companies.
When not working at PFI, or on the farm, he volunteers at Farm to Table and the Community Food Bank, and is a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors’ Food Policy Council. For relaxation, he likes to spend time on a beach and fishing.
Suzi Howk Says Goodbye After 16 Years
Since the very first field day I attended in September 2006, on Susan Jutz’s farm, I have known that Practical Farmers of Iowa was special. PFI’s core values are based on listening to farmers, networking and engagement and offering encouragement to keep going through the good times and bad. Asking questions, curiosity and always learning have also always been core to PFI and its members, along with a base understanding of agriculture as working with nature rather than against it – as Dan Wilson says, seeing creation as a guide for farming systems.
I have spent my career thus far working to expand the mission at Practical Farmers of Iowa. Along the way, I have done a wide range of jobs: copying members in the news articles, planning youth camps and poultry research trials, keeping the bills paid and working hard to make sure all financials at PFI are in order. Over time, we have built the organization from a budget of about $400,000 per year to a budget of $4.4 million for fiscal year 2022. I’m proud to say that Practical Farmers of Iowa is in a strong financial position!
After 13.5 years full-time at PFI (16 years if you count my internship), it is time for me to move on to other opportunities. I will be serving as a nonprofit CFO consultant with a fully remote company. Leaving PFI has been a very difficult decision to make, but this change will allow for increased flexibility and focus on my family.
I will cherish the relationships I have had the opportunity to build with all of you. Each farm I have visited, and all of the conversations, have shaped me into the person I am today. Thank you all for the work you do every day to provide nourishment and steward the land now and for future generations.
Thank You to our Newest Lifetime Members
- Paul Hoffman – Earlville, IL
- Cory Bennett – Galva, IA
- John Blake – Waukon, IA
- Kristine and Bret Lang – Brookings, SD
- Mary Swander – Kalona, IA
- Suzan Erem and Paul Durrenberger – West Branch, IA
- Meghan Filbert and Omar de Kok-Mercado – Pilot Mound, IA
- Doug Alert and Margaret Smith – Hampton, IA
- Ted and Linda Krauskopf – Highland, IL
Lifetime membership is open to anyone, and confers the same benefits as regular membership – without any renewal notices! Learn more about this option at practicalfarmers.org/lifetime-membership.