Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Why is the theme of our 2019 conference "Cultivating Connections"?

Sometimes it feels like our world is losing the vital connections that sustain us -- connections between one another, between farms and communities, between soil and crops, ecosystems and more. At a time when more people are quick to seek out differences rather than common ground, we at Practical Farmers of Iowa cultivate a different ethos -- one based on welcoming everyone, listening respectfully and building community based on what we have in common.

Watch this short video -- and then we hope you will come cultivate connections at our 2019 annual conference.

We want to wish all of our supporters a happy holiday season from the staff at Practical Farmers of Iowa!
Jan. 8: Farminar - Installing and Maintaining Prairie Strips
7 p.m. |  Tune in here

Jan. 15: Farminar - Diversifying Rations for Pastured Pigs
7 p.m. |  Tune in here

Jan. 17-18: Pre-Conference Short Courses: Silvopasture & Orcharding
Jan. 17, 1 - 6:30 p.m. | Jan. 18, 8 - 11:30 a.m.

Jan 18-19: Annual Conference: Cultivating Connections
Jan. 18, 12:30 - 6:30 p.m. | Jan. 19, 7:30 a.m. - 5:10 p.m.
Practical Farmers' first beginning farmer retreat was held at Pilgrim Heights Retreat Center in Montour, Iowa, in 2009. This year, the retreat's 11th, it returned to where it all began. On Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 24 beginning and aspiring farmers gathered together to dedicate time to planning their farm businesses and network with others doing the same. Click here to continue reading about this event
We hosted our first Next Generation Summit in August. The aim of the event was to bring together aspiring farmers and farmland owners. Inside the brick walls of the former Maytag headquarters in Newton, 16 landowners came together with 19 aspiring farmers to set goals and network. Many met someone that day to help them reach those goals, and everyone left with the tools and confidence to do so in the future . Click here to continue reading about this event
We are seeking experienced farmers who plan to hire an employee in 2019 to participate in our  Labor4Learning program . The program is intended to be beneficial for both parties: aspiring farmers get a paid, on-farm job and additional training on how to run a farm business, and the experienced farmer gains an eager-to-learn employee. Click here to continue reading about this program
Going to the conference? Don't miss our annual meeting!
Please join us at our annual meeting on Friday, Jan. 18, to hear a summary of our work in 2018, and our plans for 2019 and beyond. You'll learn about our activities and accomplishments in 2018 – a year in which we experienced substantial growth. PFI members will also elect board members for open seats on our board of directors. If you are a member, please come and vote!

The 2019 annual meeting will be held at 4:45 p.m., during our annual conference at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building, in Ames.

Following the meeting, we will present PFI's 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award. Michael Phillips, author of "Micorrhizal Planet," will then deliver the conference keynote.
For vegetable growers, some crops can be more challenging to grow successfully than others.

At our 2019 annual conference (Jan. 17-19 in Ames), we've planned sessions focused on three of those crops -- cauliflower, eggplant and storage onions -- that present unique challenges to vegetable farmers in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.

These sessions are among a suite of offerings for horticulture farmers of all types spanning topics such as finances, farm labor, seed-saving, marketing, biodynamic production and more.

You'll learn from a mix of speakers representing a range of farm scales and enterprises, such as:
Nathan Corymb, of Meadowlark Hearth Biodynamic Seed Initiative in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Nathan and his wife, Beth, raise vegetable seed, and operate a year-round vegetable CSA and a micro grass-fed and grass-finished dairy on 500 acres. The land is certified organic and Demeter Certified Biodynamic.

Nathan will present in two sessions. Read about them here.
Scott Thellman, president of Juniper Hill Farms , a first-generation farm in Douglas County, Kansas. The farm business consists of 65 acres of certified organic land and 1,100 acres of sustainably grown land, including 50 acres of conventional and organic vegetables. Other crops include hay, alfalfa, small grains and non-GMO row crops.

Scott will present in four sessions. Read about them here.
Cathy LaFrenz, who operates Miss Effie’s Country Flowers and Garden Stuff near Donahue, Iowa. Founded in 2002, Miss Effie’s is a celebration of women on Iowa farms. Miss Effie’s is Iowa’s first U-pick flower farm, which also boasts a “summer kitchen” store and eggs from 20 different breeds of chickens. 

Cathy will present in one session. Read about it here.
What a year it's been at Practical Farmers of Iowa!
This time of year gives us all an opportunity to reflect on our blessings. We have so much to be grateful for here at Practical Farmers of Iowa! We especially value all of our dedicated members who generously share what they know with others in an effort to improve Iowa agriculture. As we approach year’s end, consider donating to help us fulfill our mission of equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities!

Please consider donating today to ensure we have the resources we need to continue our work to foster an Iowa that reflects Practical Farmers’ values.
Laura Krouse of Mount Vernon wrote an opinion piece featured in the Des Moines Register: Iowa's voluntary approach to protecting waterways isn't working

John and Halee Wepking of Ridgeway, WI, were featured on Civil Eats: Three Generations, Two Families, and One Organic Farm Model Succession

Jenny Quiner of Des Moines was a guest on the podcast Permaculture Voices: Growing a Farm Business with a Successful Farmstead

Zach, Emily and Mitch Kennedy of Atlantic and Denise Schwab of Vinton were featured in Morning Ag Clips: 2018 Iowa BQA Awards.

Rob Stout of Washington was featured on the Iowa Food & Family Project website: Farmers Get Cozy with Cover Crops
Have you been featured in the media? Tell us when and where to find a link to the article, and we'll feature you in a future issue of Practical News.