Overview

Things to Look Forward To:

  • Reuniting in person with old friends, and making new ones
  • Conference meals and snacks sourced from PFI members and local businesses
  • A silent auction of PFI experiences
  • PFI Faces and an old-fashioned community message board
  • A return of PFI storytelling
  • A Friday evening keynote by Laura Jackson
  • 61 farmer-led sessions, including general sessions, roundtables and lightning talks
  • 56 of our sessions approved for certified crop advisor CEU credits

Register Today!

If you would like assistance with registration or would like to register over the phone, we are happy to help you. Please contact Debra Boekholder at the PFI office: (515) 232-5661.

We are committed to making “Facing the Horizon” affordable for all to attend. In addition to keeping our conference registration rates low, conference discounts are given to all registrants with current PFI memberships. For attendees with Lifetime Memberships ($1,000) or Farm/Household Memberships ($60/year) up to 10 family members or farm employees can attend on a single registration ticket. For more information on conference registration pricing click here. 

As funding allows, PFI will award scholarships to aspiring and beginning farmers to attend the 2022 annual conference. Aspiring farmers or beginning farmers who have been farming for fewer than 10 years – and have not previously attended a PFI annual conference – are eligible to apply. PFI encourages farmers who are Black, Indigenous, Latino or who belong to other historically underserved or marginalized groups, as well as farmers who are military veterans and those with limited resources, to apply for a scholarship.

Volunteer opportunities may also be available. Please call the PFI office to inquire about scholarships and volunteer opportunities at (515) 232-5661.

Register Today!


Lightning strikes the PFI annual conference again! Sign up to give one of these 8-minute talks

During the 2022 PFI annual conference, we are bringing back lightning talks to our session offerings.

As the name suggests, lightning talks are short, focused and, hopefully, exciting to watch! We know many of you are evaluating new practices or have figured out a process that would be nice to share with others. And we know some of you don’t want to talk for an hour. How about 8 minutes?

If you’d like to deliver a lightning talk during the conference, we want to hear from you! Please let us know using this form, and we’ll follow up. Check out the video below to get an idea of what lightning talks were like last year.


PFI Storytelling

Saturday, January 22 | 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Storytelling is back! Following lunch on Saturday, all conference attendees will come together to hear true stories, from a selection of PFI farmers. If you enjoy bending your ear toward a lively, soberingly powerful or particularly well-narrated farmer tale, this storytelling is just for you.

Featured Storytellers

Jill Beebout

Jill Beebout — Emcee

Jill Beebout runs Blue Gate Farm with her husband, Sean Skeehan. They steward 40 acres of family land in southern Marion County, Iowa, where they raise Certified Naturally Grown produce, laying hens, hay and alpacas, marketing through CSA and the Downtown Farmers’ market in Des Moines.

Cathy Lafrenz

Cathy Lafrenz

Cathy Lafrenz founded Miss Effie’s Country Flowers and Garden Stuff in 2002. Miss Effie’s was Iowa’s first U-pick flower farm, now featuring more than 90 varieties of flowers. the farm also boasts a Summer Kitchen shop, and eggs from 20 breeds of chickens. Miss Effie’s is a partner site of Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area.

Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson farms about 500 acres of corn and soybeans with his wife, Melanie, at Bent Gate Farm near Stanton, Iowa. Four years ago, they started partnering with nearby cattle producer Pete Marshall to contract-graze their cover crops for soil health benefits. Mark is a past president of PFI.

Maja carmen black

Maja & Carmen Black

Sisters, Maja and Carmen Black, own and operate SunDog Farm and Local Harvest CSA near Solon, Iowa. On the diversified operation they raise vegetables for 200 families and graze a small flock of sheep. They also conduct on-farm research through the Cooperators’ Program. Carmen is a current PFI board member.

Air Philavahn

Air Philavanh

Phrakhounmany “Air” Philavanh farms on 11 acres near Milo, Iowa, raising a diversity of livestock and crops. Air immigrated to Iowa from Laos in 1984 and started farming in 2010. He loves to share what he’s learned with other immigrant communities in Iowa, his neighbors and his family and friends in Laos. His goal is to re-create a simple Laotian farm, applying lessons from his grandfather, to showcase history and farmer ingenuity.

Check out what stories were told last year!


Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award

Nominations for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award are now being accepted, and will be due Friday, December 3.

Practical Farmers of Iowa gives this award annually to someone who has been most influential in creating healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. PFI board members will choose the winner based on the nominations you submit. The recipient will be recognized at the annual conference. View past recipients here. For questions on the nomination process, please contact Sally Worley.

To nominate someone, please fill out this short and simple nomination form here.


Details and Logistics

Location

Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center | 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa

Directions

Near the junction of Interstate 35 and U.S. 30, the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center is located at the corner of Lincoln Way and University Boulevard, Ames, Iowa.

Lodging

Practical Farmers is reserving blocks of rooms at three hotels close to Scheman. These are the Best Western Plus University Park Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn & Suites and Radisson Hotel Ames Conference Center. We’ll have details such as rates, direct links to room blocks and more in the coming weeks.


COVID-19 Policy

At Practical Farmers of Iowa, the safety of our staff, members and community is our top priority. At this event, we are committed to prioritizing safety while balancing the benefits of in-person interaction and learning. Safety measures attendees can expect include:

  • All attendees over the age of 3, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a properly fitting mask, except when actively eating or drinking. This policy aligns with current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for counties and states with “substantial” or “high” risk of community spread of COVID-19.
  • As much as possible, event areas will be designed to allow for and encourage social distancing. Attendees and staff are encouraged to practice social distancing to the best of their ability.
  • Staff and attendees will be encouraged to practice good hand hygiene. Hand sanitizer will be readily available at the event.
  • During meals, to-go boxes will be available in the buffet lines for those who wish to enjoy their meal away from the eating area (we’ve long suspected some attendees would prefer an easier carrying receptacle, too!).
  • PFI-branded masks and disposable masks will be provided.
  • PFI staff will actively engage with attendees to remind everyone of these safety measures.
  • Staff and attendees are encouraged to stay home if they or someone in their household are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Questions?

If you have additional questions about safety measures in place for this event, please contact Liz Kolbe,
liz@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661.

We are looking forward to having this event in person, and greatly appreciate your contribution to making our space as safe as possible for staff, attendees and our community.


You’re Invited!

PFI Faces

Perhaps the most important feature of the PFI conference is making connections with other attendees and presenters. And while we love the serendipity of an encounter at the lunch table, we hope PFI Faces will help attendees successfully connect with even more people. PFI staff will be at a station snapping Polaroid photos, to which you can add a handwritten bio and “Find me to talk about” section. We hope to have a big collection of smiling faces (and we won’t sell them to advertisers!)

Message Board

Are you looking for employees or farming experience? Do you want to organize an ad hoc meeting and find others eager to join in? Going out to a bar and want to invite another conference-goer? Pin it up on the message board on the ground floor of the Scheman Building!

Year in Review & PFI Annual Meeting

Practical Farmers’ mission is to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Join us for our annual meeting as we review how our mission guided our work in 2021 and how our new strategic plan will influence our work over the next three years. Board elections will also take place; please come and vote!

Spanish Translation and Interpretation

For those who prefer or need to access the annual conference materials and sessions in Spanish, PFI is creating a Spanish-language annual conference brochure, website and registration. We will provide a full track of bilingual or Spanish-interpreted sessions, and simultaneous interpretation headsets will be available for checkout at the registration desk.

Practical Farmers’ Breakfast

7:30 a.m. Saturday

Join us early at Scheman for networking and a free breakfast featuring products sourced from PFI members and local farmers.

Dining Around Ames

We’re forgoing the PFI potluck this year (it will be back!), but we suspect conference-goers will enjoy spending the night out in Ames or ordering in to their hotel rooms. To assist your decision-making, PFI staff are compiling their favorite Ames-area eats (and drinks).