Published Apr 25, 2024

the Practical Farmer: Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Magazine CoverPageTable of Contents

On the cover:

The Keniston family’s cattle grazing forage and applying manure in a field made accessible with fencing bought using grazing cost-share funds. Read more about PFI’s grazing cost-share.

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Over the Garden Gate

Farmer-to-farmer tips for vegetable production.

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20230908 Josh Nelson

Land Access & Beginning Farmers

Finding Common Ground

Open communication is central to how landowners Paul Thompson and Elena Meyer work with their farmland operator.

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Three year old silver maple trees growing amongst mature box elders, red oaks and hackberry on Ruth Rabinowitz farm


The Wonders of Windbreaks

Since taking over managing her family land, Ruth Rabinowitz has planted hundreds of trees to benefit wildlife and the land.

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Alec Amundson plants into no till cover cropped field

Field Crops

Putting Soil to the Test

Many PFI farmers have noted that cover crops boost their field access. A new PFI on-farm trial aims to back those claims with data.

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2024 PFI Annual Conference

2024 Annual Conference

Photo Feature

View a selection of images from our annual conference held in Des Moines, Iowa, in January.




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Gruver, Joel 400.4700

Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award

A Calling to Teach

Throughout his career, Joel Gruver has sought to deepen his knowledge of sustainable agriculture and share it with others.

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Keniston cattle grazing grazing cost share


The Roots of Community

PFI’s grazing cost-share is getting livestock on the land while helping farmers build new connections.

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PFI News

Global Greens Is PFI’s New Tedesco Farm Tenant

PFI is excited to welcome Global Greens, a program run by Lutheran Services of Iowa, as the new tenant at Tedesco Farm, a 13-acre farm near Granger, Iowa, donated by Angela and John Tedesco to PFI in 2016.

Global Greens members pose at PFI's 2024 Annual Conference

Global Greens was selected in November by PFI’s board of directors to be the next tenant at the property after a lengthy and careful search last summer and fall, which involved an open call for applications and in-person interviews with a committee of experienced PFI farmers from diverse farming backgrounds.

Global Greens provides farmers who came to Iowa as refugees with land access, business development assistance and technical support.

For years, the organization has provided farmers with quarter-acre plots in West Des Moines at a site LSI refers to as the Valley Community Site. Now, farmers who have gained more experience at that scale will have the chance to expand and grow their operations at the Tedesco Farm, fulfilling a longstanding land access need.

Global Greens Farm and Lutheran Services in Iowa

Jennie Erwin

“It’s a step above for those graduating off of the valley site that we really need,” says Jennie Erwin, farm management specialist at Global Greens.

The ability to move some more experienced Global Greens farmers to bigger plots at the Tedesco Farm will also free up much needed space at LSI’s West Des Moines location, giving more aspiring farmers the chance to access land and start farm businesses. “We have long waiting lists for the valley site,” Jennie says. “They (LSI) had four spots open for 2024 and interviewed about 20 applicants.”

The first Global Greens farmers will start farming at the Tedesco Farm this spring. Jennie says the plan is to start with two or three farmers who will together use about 6 acres of land. LSI will plant cover crops on the remaining acres.

“We’re excited to give a couple of folks who have been chomping at the bit for larger plots of land a chance to farm a larger area,” Jennie said. “Their excitement is contagious.”

Looking for Paid Farm Jobs? Try Labor4Learning

Sara Ziehr working at Morning Glory FarmAre you a beginning farmer looking to gain hands-on skills? Consider applying for a paid on-farm job through Labor4Learning, a PFI program that offers on-the-job training with experienced PFI farmers across the state who are committed to mentoring the next generation. Several jobs are still available for the 2024 season.

All positions will offer mentoring that goes beyond an ordinary farm job on topics such as record-keeping, marketing and other skills beginning and aspiring farmers might not otherwise be exposed to.

These skills are vital aspects of running a successful farm business. But they’re not a typical part of most on-farm jobs. Labor4Learning seeks to fill the gap by offering a more well-rounded job experience.

“Working with Donna Warhover at Morning Glory Farm fast-tracked my farming experience and built lasting relationships,” says Sara Ziehr, a Labor4Learning trainee from West Branch, Iowa, who operates Seven Branches Farm with her family.

“I was able to observe a well-run farm with established procedures and got to be hands-on with a variety of tools and equipment. I also learned about different planting methods, integrated pest management and business management.”

Each trainer farm in the program was approved by a committee of Practical Farmers of Iowa members to serve as qualified teachers. The farms represent a diversity of enterprises and production practices, including row crops, multiple species of livestock, fruits and vegetables, flowers, cover crops, organic certification and more.

All positions are paid, and most trainer farms offer competitive wages, plus other perks and benefits. To see the full list of open positions, visit For questions, contact Rachel Burke at (515) 232-5661 or rachel.burke(at)practicalfarmers(dot)org.

Read (and Share!) Our 2023 Annual Report

2023 annual report coverMembers should have received a copy of our 2023 annual report in the mail (if you haven’t, please contact Debra at (515) 232-5661 or debra.boekholder(at)practicalfarmers(dot)org to make sure your membership details are current!).

Inside, you’ll read about our impact in 2023, from the impressive reach of our farmer-to-farmer education, to our efforts to grow and broaden our network, to how we’re working to tackle the barriers many food and farm businesses are facing, and more.

This year’s report is organized by work we’ve undertaken to achieve our strategic directions.

It also includes fun report cards highlighting how we fared in meeting some of our 2021-2023 objectives and key results, which we crafted to help us achieve our strategic directions.

Our goals were audacious, and we did not meet all of them, but we made impressive progress.

As always, our annual report is filled with snapshots of our members and examples of how farmers are helping one another through our network. It also offers an excellent overview of our programs, financials and what we accomplished together last year.

If you know someone who’s not yet a member of PFI but could benefit from our community, our annual report is a perfect place to start – please consider sharing it with them. Find it online at, or contact the office to request additional hard copies in the mail.

Welcome New Board Members

Please welcome Margaret Smith of Hampton, Iowa, and Tim Youngquist of Zearing, Iowa, to PFI’s board of directors. They were elected by members during our 2024 Annual Conference, and are starting their first terms as farmer at-large board members. Jon Bakehouse, of Hastings, Iowa, was also re-elected to serve his second term as director for PFI’s southwest district.

The new board met in February and voted on PFI’s next executive committee: David Rosmann of Harlan, Iowa, as president; Carmen Black of Solon, Iowa, as vice president; Jon Bakehouse as treasurer; and Gayle Olson, of Winfield, Iowa, as secretary. Learn more about board service, and see the full board roster, at

“I cannot remember a time before PFI, as my parents were here from the beginning,” David says. “It is humbling to follow in my dad’s footsteps as president over 35 years later.”

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