Published Jul 12, 2023

Many Paths to a Shared Goal

By Sally Worley

PFI2023 BookPhotoI’m an avid fiction reader. I love transporting to different worlds through reading. My family teases me for reading at literally every opportunity I can fit into a day. I’ve read fiction like it was water since childhood. As a result, my “to-be-read” pile of non-fiction is large. It includes “The River Knows,” by Neil Hamilton; “Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads With An Indian Elder” by Kent Nerburn, recommended to me by PFI board member Jon Bakehouse and lent to me by PFI board member Kristine Lang; and “Strategic Doing” by Edward Morrison et al, recommended by Brian Depew, executive director at Center for Rural Affairs.

Despite my fiction addiction, I have read several non-fiction books over this past year, many written by PFI members and supporters. The most recent one delved into is “Tending Iowa’s Land: Pathways to a Sustainable Future.” This book is edited by PFI supporter Cornelia Mutel and contains contributions from 28 additional authors (several of whom are PFI members!).

I was drawn to the book by the plural “pathways” in the title, which immediately acknowledges the complex nature of creating a sustainable future. Contributing authors share diverse perspectives about the issues and solutions that will allow Iowa to continue producing crops in our fertile soil while rejuvenating our precious and often under-valued natural resources.

From Levi Lyle’s chapter about why he chose to farm by his values, to Lisa Schulte Moore’s chapter outlining a vision for an Iowa where nature and farming co-exist, the book is full of information and inspiration, and gives credence to the fact that we all have a unique role to play in healing Iowa’s land. You can find this book on University of Iowa Press’ website. (And look forward to a full book review by PFI member Carol Smith in our autumn issue.)

Another place I’ve enjoyed reading the perspectives of PFI members is Mary Swander’s website. Mary and other PFI members have joined the Iowa Writers Collaborative, and Mary has published stories from authors in multiple channels, from the publication Emerging Voices to Blazing Star Literary Journal.

From reading about how Kate Edwards is creating memories for her daughter, Ada Marie, on her farm while revisiting memories from her childhood on her grandparents’ farm, to reading Adam Janke weave together nature and humanity with his beautiful scientific writing skills, I’ve learned a lot about PFI members and what drives them as they do their unique part to create a sustainable future.

PFI has a strategic goal that many voices drive Iowa’s agricultural narrative. The above are just a few examples of the impactful ways PFI members are contributing diverse perspectives to Iowa’s – and the nation’s – agricultural conversation. Better understanding the complex facets that have led us to where we are helping all Iowans consider the paths to creating a sustainable future.

This magazine is another way PFI contributes to this goal. It has long shared the experiences of farmers and supporters who are striving to create resilient farms and communities. From reconstructing oak savanna ecosystems, to ramping up local food production, to expanding cover crop acres, PFI members are traveling many paths to build a sustainable future.

Do you have a story to share? Contact Tamsyn Jones if you’d like your story to be featured in the magazine. Your perspectives help convey the true complexity of our food, farming and natural systems. Have you had a story published somewhere? Contact Elizabeth Wilhelm so we can share it with others via Practical News, our weekly e-newsletter.

Thanks for being part of the many voices driving the agriculture narrative. Your voice, and your efforts, are vital to our future.

Sally Signature

P.S. Do you have books to recommend I add to my fiction or non-fiction to-be-read pile? I’d love your recommendations at