Published Apr 18, 2023

Relationships are the “Magic Sauce”

By Sally Worley

PFI is a unique network of farmers and supporters who believe in learning, innovative research, business development and risk management approaches like cost-share programs to help farmers build resilient farms and communities.

The amount of work we’re accomplishing together as a network is astounding, and we’re starting to see the needle move toward resilient, regenerative agriculture.

Last year alone, 8,300 people attended 258 farmer-to-farmer events where they learned how to make changes to better their farms. Also in 2022, 1,335 farmers enrolled in PFI cost-share programs for cover crops and small grains, planting 383,357 acres of covers and small grains as a result of participating.

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Nathan Anderson and Sally Worley

These programs are vitally important, and, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective as they are without the relationships created within PFI’s network. Long-time PFIer and board member Vic Madsen, who farms near Audubon, Iowa, regularly talks about how relationships are PFI’s “magic sauce.”

These relationships provide people the confidence and support needed to make the positive, but hard, changes on their farms. When you’re creating a new market, trying a new practice or building a new business model, people who can provide expertise, solidarity – and sometimes, just a supportive set of ears – are so vital.

I am grateful for the relationships I’ve formed through PFI. And I know I’m not alone. I’m grateful for Ann Franzenburg, who farms near Van Horne, Iowa, and recently served as PFI’s board president as part of her nine years of board service. I am able to ask her questions about flower varieties and get the latest on top sellers; learn about fundraising best practices; navigate having difficult conversations with respect and camaraderie; and have a whole lot of laughs.

I am grateful for Nathan Anderson, who farms near Aurelia, Iowa, and who just took over as PFI’s board president. Nathan can eloquently sum up a conversation in a way that causes the rest of the room to nod in agreement. His intelligence is readily apparent alongside his humility and humor. It’s fun to hear about how he and his wife, Sarah, are raising their sons, Fletcher and Finn, on the farm. During our March board meeting, for instance, Nathan shared how the boys, ages 3 and 5, were planning their gardens and showed interest in cherry tomato varieties.

There are so many other relationships I’ve formed through PFI that help me professionally and fill my cup personally. I (and Vic, too) talk about relationships a lot, because they truly are the “magic sauce” to working together to make positive change.

The PFI conference, with record attendance of 1,045 people, is one event where this magic is on fully display. For two days, a diverse, passionate and innovative group of farmers come together willing to share about their farming challenges and successes. I look forward to attending every year because I know I’ll connect with many friends, partners and colleagues while enriching my network with new connections who inspire, teach and keep me grounded in why PFI’s work is so important.

Spring is upon us: Bulbs are peeking up, buds are bursting, covers are greening, greenhouses are filling up – and field days will be here before we know it. We are preparing for a fantastic field day lineup across the state (and across state lines).

Thank you for being an ingredient of PFI’s “magic sauce,” and I hope to see you on a farm this summer!