Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Twenty-three beginning and aspiring farmers gathered Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 at the Pilgrim Heights Camp & Retreat Center in Montour for Practical Farmers' 2018 Beginning Farmer Retreat. Participants came together to meet and learn from one another as they worked on creating a business plan and gathered ideas to help them start or improve their farming enterprises.

In this photo, Ann and Eric Franzenburg, of Pheasant Run Farm near Van Horne, share the history of their farm before listening to attendees' business ideas and offering feedback on those ideas.
Throughout the weekend, attendees ground-truthed their farming visions by hearing from farmers who have been farming for over six years. Beginning and aspiring farmers left with new connections, peers and resources to keep their planning in motion. Stay tuned for a blog recapping the retreat!
Dec. 11: Farminar - Organic Seedling Production
7 p.m. | Tune in here

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.
…and we are so grateful! Each year about this time, we look back on our field day season to evaluate how we did, look for ways to improve and look for the story in the statistics. This year, the story is you.

Although our field day guide and email blasts are large contributors to the question of how you heard about an event, a growing number of attendees are learning about events via word of mouth. That is a statistic we are very proud of, and trust our founders would be too. Thank you all for sharing our events with your friends, colleagues, family and neighbors. It is making a difference. Click here to continue reading about the 2018 field day season.
On July 17, about 30 people gathered at the north-central Iowa farm of lifetime PFI members Kellie and A.J. Blair to learn how the Blairs are integrating cover crops, livestock, reduced tillage and on-farm research to increase their conservation and profitability. Click here to continue reading about this diverse farming enterprise!
Whether you raise pigs or poultry, cows or sheep -- or don't yet raise livestock but are looking to start -- you'll find a session relevant to you at our 2019 annual conference (Jan. 17-19, in Ames).

This year, we've planned a suite of sessions dedicated to profitability on livestock farms, including sessions on profitably marketing meat, the economics of running an organic dairy in today’s market milieu and grazing cover crops profitably, among others. Read more about these sessions, and others, on our conference webpage.
Three sessions will specifically explore meat marketing:
In “Profitable Meat Marketing: Part 1 , Matt LeRoux , agricultural marketing specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension in New York, will share strategic and specific marketing efforts that can help farmers take full advantage of the market for local meat.
In “Profitable Meat Marketing: Part II,” Matt will guide participants through the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator, a tool he developed to help farmers figure out how to price different products for different marketing channels and whether they’re actually making money.
In “Building a Meat Cooperative From the Ground Up,” Cody Hopkins will talk about the business structure of Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a meat co-op that connects member farms with markets and provides support with animal purchasing, processing, aggregation, distribution and marketing.
Tuesday, Dec. 11 | 7 p.m.
Paul Betz

Before retiring, Paul Betz, of High Ledge Farm, farmed at 1,200 feet in the hills of Vermont. This geographic location, combined with limited infrastructure, made it challenging for him to have a full market presence in early spring. To meet this challenge, Paul opted to shift his early-season attention to plants for local gardeners. Bringing high-quality plants to his local market has brought in cash from the first market of the season while letting Paul develop a loyal customer base of home gardeners and homesteaders. Paul will discuss his farm’s seedling production from seed to sale, including variety choice, record keeping, scheduling, costs and marketing. Tune in here on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Bruce Carney of Maxwell was featured in Wallaces Farmer: Grazing systems a haven for grassland birds

Bob and Kristy Walker of Iowa City, and Paul Ackley of Bedford, were featured in American Agriculturalist: Beginning farmers learn that things never go as planned on farm
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.