With harvest nearly complete, now is a good time to check out Practical Farmers of Iowa's new fall lineup of "Farminars." Write the ones on your calendar that you think would be the most interesting to you and your farming operation and remember to tune-in via your computer. There is no cost for you to do this, and you do not have to be a member of PFI to participate.
Practical Farmers of Iowa, an organization that advances profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture, will be hosting eight online seminars called Farminars on Tuesdays from November 1 through December 27. Farminars provide an opportunity for farmers to learn from other farmers in the off-season without having to travel. Any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate. Melville Kennedy, Davison, Michigan, has watched Practical Farmers of Iowa Farminars regularly since they began in the fall of 2009. "This is an excellent venue for the beginning farmer to get ideas and firsthand knowledge from people with experience in farming," he says.
Fall Farminars feature a number of timely topics and experienced speakers
All eight Farminars will feature a beginning farmer learning from an experienced speaker. Participants can view the program live online and ask questions throughout the presentation in real time. Expert speakers include a farmer who is a social media power user, a farmer proficient in seeding pasture, farmers who market specialty meats, innovative fruit and vegetable farmers, a USDA beginning farmer farm loan manager and a local foods wholesale distributor. Topics include farm financing, wholesale marketing, social media, successful pasture seed mixes, marketing grass-fed beef, affordable season extension, record keeping best practices and high tunnels.
To register and participate in Farminars, visit www.practicalfarmers.org/farminar. Recordings of previous Farminars, which number 36 to date, can also be viewed at this URL.
Practical Farmers of Iowa Fall 2011 Farminar lineup
Tuesday, November 1, 7-8:30 p.m., "Financing options for beginning farmers" with Andy Hunziker, Jason Jones and Erin Drinnin. From bank loans to USDA beginning farmer loans and small business development loans, this Farminar will review financing options for beginners.
Jason Jones and Erin Drinnin are Des Moines beginning farmers. Jason has worked for eight years on three different fruit and vegetable farms. Currently, he is farm manager of the Homestead near Pleasant Hill. Jason and Erin are looking for financing to start their own business, Wilted Leaf Farm, in central Iowa.
Andy Hunziker, farm loan manager for the Boone County USDA Farm Service Agency, administers the agency's loan programs that provide financing for beginning farmers in central Iowa.
Tuesday, November 8, 7-8:30 p.m., "Wholesale marketing with distributors: What farmers need to know" with Phil Danowsky, Local Harvest Supply, and Kathy and Adam Hohl, Kathy's Pumpkin Patch. Learn about food safety, packaging, and ordering and delivery details as this Farminar focuses on what it takes to successfully sell produce to a wholesale market.
Kathy Hohl, Donnellson, IA, co-owns Kathy's Pumpkin Patch with her son Adam Hohl and his wife Julie. The pumpkin patch is part of Kathy and her husband Greg's fifth generation diversified crop and livestock farm. The family farm includes 40 acres of pumpkins, squashes and gourds, as well as other crops that support a full growing season of produce for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Kathy's Pumpkin Patch markets a variety of cabbages, lettuces and winter squash through Local Harvest Supply. They began selling through this market in 2010.
Phil Danowsky, Local Harvest Supply, Coralville, IA, purchases produce from 21 local growers and sells it under the Local Harvest brand to wholesale buyers for their consumer markets. This model takes the marketing burden off of growers and allows Local Harvest to provide greater variety and availability of fresh local products to wholesale customers.
Tuesday, November 15, 7-8:30 p.m., "How to better use Facebook to increase your farm's sales" with Thomas Burkhead and Lorna Wilson. Do you want to begin or better your use of this free online social media tool? Learn more about how to make Facebook an effective marketing agent for your farm.
Tom Burkhead works for Juan O'Sullivan's Gourmet Salsa in Cumming, IA as their Food Production Assistant. A recent Marketing and Business graduate from Drake University, Des Moines, he assists in all aspects of the operation: horticulture, marketing, social media management and procurement.
Lorna Wilson, Paullina, IA, is no beginner to farming but is a novice social media user. Lorna and her husband Dan operate their family business, Seven W Farm, along with their oldest son Torray and his wife Erin. In 2011, this family farm managed 424 acres of organic row crops and pastures. On those pastures they raise pork, poultry (egg layers and meat birds), grass-fed lamb, beef and beehives for honey.
Tuesday, November 22, 7-8:30 p.m., "Pasture Seed Mixes for Success" with Karl Dallefeld and Eric Madsen. Attend this Farminar to learn which species of grasses and legumes to choose for your pastures and what seeding rates will establish a good stand.
Karl Dallefeld, Worthington, IA, has 25 years of experience with forages and grazing to offer guidance to beginners establishing pastures. He enjoys working with farmers to improve animal performance on pasture and soil health for happy animals.
Eric Madsen, since graduating from college a few years ago, returned home to start a hay enterprise while assisting his father, Vic, and mother, Cindy, on their family farm near Audubon. They raise certified-organic row crops, small grains and deep-bedded hogs in hoop buildings. They are moving toward a rotational grazing model for their beef cattle production.
Tuesday, November 29, 7-8:30 p.m., "The marketing of grass-fed beef" with Tom and Mary Cory and Dave Schmidt. For many farmers, raising a quality product comes first but marketing it is equally important to create a viable business. This one will cover techniques to successfully market your products.
Tom and Mary Cory own The Cory's at Prairie Hill Farm, a family farming operation near Elkhart, IA. Since 1997, the Cory's have marketed frozen, packaged lamb at the Des Moines Farmer's Market, and in the past several years, they have added goat meat and grass-finished beef. They also sell through the Iowa Food Co-op and the new Ames Main Street Farmer's Market.
Dave Schmidt, beginning grazier, returned to Iowa after college to graze livestock near Garwin. This year, he purchased his first eight bred heifers and began establishing his grazing system. He intends to market the first five steers when they are finished in approximately June of 2012.
Tuesday, December 13, 7-8:30 p.m., "Inexpensive, effective season extension" with Rob Faux and Ellen Walsh-Rosmann. Join in to find out how to extend your season without overextending your budget.
Rob Faux with his wife Tammy grow fruits and vegetables for their business Genuine Faux Farm near Tripoli, IA, since 2004 and have been experimenting with season extension from the beginning of their farming careers.
Ellen Walsh-Rosmann is a beginning fruit and vegetable farmer near Harlan, IA. She started a very small subscription vegetable farm CSA last summer. She and her husband Daniel also raise organic-certified row crops, small grains, beef cattle, hogs and popcorn with his family.
Tuesday, December 20, 7:00-8:30 p.m., "Setting up a system of recordkeeping (and sticking to it)" with Linda Halley and Julie Wilber. Do you know what crops are making money for your farm? Learn how to setup a system of recordkeeping that allows you to run budgets and increase your profit.
Linda Halley, Farmington, MN, has grown high-quality produce for decades. Today, as Farm Manager for Gardens of Eagan, she is growing new fruit and vegetable farmers. Previously Linda managed Fairview Gardens, a non-profit farm in California and co-owned Harmony Valley Farm near Viroqua, WI.
Julie Wilber and husband Scott began farming fruit and vegetables for their farm Wilber's Northside Market near Boone, IA, in 2003. Their products are available by subscribing to their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in grocery stores, on the farm (on north side of town) and at local farmer's market.
Tuesday, December 27, 7-8:30 p.m., "Grow better with high tunnels" with Adam Montri and Ann Franzenburg. How do I get the best germination rates, design the best crop rotation and earn the most with this season extending technology? Learn this and more as our guest from Michigan returns for his third annual farminar.
Adam Montri and his wife Dru own and operate Ten Hens Farm, Michigan, where they grow and sell vegetables in the field and two commercial sized high tunnels 12 months of the year. Adam also works with farmers throughout the Midwest on high tunnel production, marketing, and economics.
Ann Franzenburg and her husband Eric operate Pheasant Run Farm, near Van Horne, IA. They produce corn, soybeans, hogs, poultry, flowers, tomatoes, greens, raspberries, ginger, and high value herbs. Ann began working full-time on the farm in 2009, growing and selling cut flowers to diverse market outlets.
Practical Farmers of Iowa's Fall 2011 Farminars are made possible with funding from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21843.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.