Beginning Farmer Update: August, 2016
Announcements, Opportunities and Resources

Are you looking to advance your farm business all while earning money to purchase a farm asset? Well then you should consider applying for the Savings Incentive Program. This week we have started to accept applications for the 2018 class. Will you be one of the farmers selected? Hurry, applications will be accepted until October 7th. 

The two-year program pairs beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced farmer mentors; provides targeted learning and peer networking opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money while learning how to build a profitable farm. Successful participants receive a one-to-one match on money saved during the program, up to $2,400, for a potential total of $4,800 that may be used to help purchase a farm asset.  

"The process of planning and growing my business would never have gotten done without the help of PFI and the Savings Incentive Program," says Adam Ledvina, a beginning livestock farmer set to graduate from the program in December 2016. "Having due dates really helps you stay on top of things."

Requirements: As part of the Savings Incentive Program, participants are paired with a mentor, with whom they must meet in-person at least three times in the first year. Participants also:
  • Open and manage a savings account with Practical Farmers' partner bank
  • Meet at least one time in person with a business plan reviewer
  • Create or fine-tune a business or whole-farm plan
  • Attend at least four Practical Farmers events per year. PFI events include online trainings, field days, conferences, workshops and more
  • Conduct online quarterly reviews with Practical Farmers staff to check on progress toward goals and program requirements
  • Complete all forms and requested information on-time
Eligibility: Applicants must either be farming on their own now and have farmed for five or fewer years; or they must have some experience working for a farm business. This includes, but is not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, working as an hourly or salaried employee, or working on the family farm. Applicants must also be members of Practical Farmers of Iowa, and either reside or farm in Iowa. Those who are not members can join at or by calling (515) 232-5661.

Those admitted to the program will be the 7th class to participate, with the total number of beginning farmers served by the program currently at 117. For questions about the Savings Incentive Program or application process, contact Greg Van Den Berghe at or (515) 232-5661.

Applications must be filled out online at  before October 7, 2016.

Greg Van Den Berghe
Beginning Farmer Manager

Livestock Marketing and Stockmanship Schools
Tina Williams and Richard McConnell, of Hand 'n Hand Livestock Solutions, are teaching two schools for livestock producers, one on marketing and the other on stockmanship, on Sept. 12-15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., near Exira. The schools will take place at Bethany Farm Camp & Retreat Center (2144 310th St., about 2.5 miles south of town). The cost is $700 per person for both, or $400 per person for the marketing school and $500 per person for the stockmanship school. Pairs from the same farm pay half-price for the second person. Registration is required by Wednesday, Aug. 31.
Practical Farmers has a limited amount of scholarships available to  help offset the cost for PFI members interested in attending. These are available on a first-come, first-seved basis. 

For more information on the scholarships available to members, contact Meghan Filbert at, or (515) 232-5661.

APPPA Pasture Poultry Workshop
The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) will lead a pastured poultry training on September 13. If you're currently raising or thinking about raising poultry on pasture, then this workshop will offer practical and actionable lessons on profitable production, husbandry practices, marketing strategies and troubleshooting health. 
Johnson County Extension / 5:00pm - 9:00pm
3109 Old Highway 218 South Iowa City, IA 52246
Refreshments provided. Bring your own bagged lunch.

September 20-22, 2016
Virginia Beach, Virginia
"Creating and Sustaining Small Farmers and Ranchers" is the country's premier conference that addresses the needs, challenges, and successes of small farmers. Learn about innovative advances in research, extension, and outreach through short courses, oral and poster paper presentations, exhibits, success stories, and educational tours.

Veterans in Agriculture: 2016 Annual Conference
September 24, 2016 9am
Freedom Center - Camp Dodge
6100 NW 78th St. Johnson, IA 

Opportunities Opportunities
Buffalo Ridge Orchard is a diversified farm with apples and vegetables located northeast of Central City, Iowa. They are currently looking for two part-time seasonal workers from late August to mid-October. Workers will be harvesting and packing apples and other produce. Workers must be motivated, have attention to detail, be able to lift 50 lbs, and available to work weekdays. Expected work schedule will be 15-25 hours per week, typically on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. The position will be compensated at $10/hour.  

If interested, please email your prior work experience and references to

Organic Land Available near Winterset 
Central Iowa Organics is looking for a few motivated beginning farmers who want to get started producing organic food for Des Moines area markets. Selected individuals will each have access to roughly 1 acre of certified organic crop ground, most of the necessary tools and equipment, and could even tap into Central Iowa Organics marketing avenues.  
Central Iowa Organics began growing organic, heirloom fruits and vegetables in 2010. They focus on wholesale markets, selling to Des Moines area grocery stores and restaurants. With extra land to spare, They would like to give beginning farmers an opportunity to get started without breaking the bank on start-up costs. The selected individuals would have to practice organic production methods and submit seed selections and crop inputs for their field, but would be able to manage their plot independently. Inquiries will be taken now for a spring 2017 start.

Learn more here or email for more information. 

Land Available near Woodward
PFI members Terry and Louise Mercer near Woodward, Iowa, have roughly 20 acres of land available that they would like to see put to good use. They raised Rocky Mountain Elk on the property at one time, and have roughly 10 acres fenced in, three additional 1-acre plots fenced in, a water supply and lean-to. This would be great for a small-scale livestock or fruit and vegetable operation.

Contact Terry for more information at 515-205-8253

Land Available near Truro
PFI members Brian and Julie Donaghy bought their farm as a land investment about 10 years ago. They ended up moving there, raising their kids and loving the country life. But lately they've been considering selling the farm. Rather than selling the farm they are wondering if there's someone who might want to work the ground in partnership with them. 

Check out Broadhorn Farm here or call 515-554-7275 for more info

Land Available near Colfax
Jon Overlin is selling approximately 58 acres north of Colfax. This property offers 16 acres of hay field, 5 acres fenced paddocks, 20 acres of overgrown pasture.  Remainder of property is mature forest with a ravine and a small creek bordering the north of property. Approx. 140 trees planted in the two-year old orchard consisting of apples, pears, plums, sweet cherries and peaches.  No chemical application in at least the last 9 years. Building site located at the end of a dead end road includes an 1800 sq foot loafing shed with county water and electricity access. Located close 20 minutes east of the Des Moines markets. Asking $6800/acre. 

Contact Jon Overlin at for more info

Looking for land? Don't forget about ! Create an account, search for landowners, and start sending messages today.


The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), the first course of its kind, is now available online, offering the same curriculum as the WSBDF pasture-based dairy and livestock seminar offered on campus and at distance-learning sites. Participants have access to live recordings of WSBDF lectures addressing topics including business planning, farm selection and setup, parlor design, livestock health, organic production and principles, marketing, soil nutrient management, and much more.

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