celebrating iowa life
Growing a business and family on local foods and plants page 4
The hunt is on for Iowa's top burger of 2014 page 12
Connecting Iowa gardeners with food pantries page 14
MEET IOWA'S KID RANCHER NORTHWEST IOWA TEENAGER PREFERS FARMING TO VIDEO GAMES PAGE 8
from the editor
BY DIRCK STEIMEL
FARMERS MARKET SEASON IS HERE! SPREAD THE WORD Ready for spring and warmer weather? I know we are here at Family Living. The month of May, when Iowa’s weather really does turn consistently warm and pleasant, is when we break out all of our articles about all of the outdoor activities and fun in Iowa. As always, there’s a lot to choose from. We’ll start with farmers markets. With early fruits and vegetables just coming into season, May is the traditional opening month for farmers markets around the state. Iowa is home to more than 200 farmers markets throughout the summer; that’s fourth nationally in the number of farmers markets and second in the number of farmers markets per capita. We like to feature some outstanding vendors you’ll see at some of them. This month, we highlight Red Granite Farm near Boone, where the Jonas family raises plants, produce and farm-fresh eggs they sell at the Ames farmers market and from their home.
Volume 24 Number 5 A publication of the Iowa Farm Bureau for ag-supporting members.
EDITORIAL STAFF Editor Dirck Steimel Senior Features Writer Teresa Bjork Photographer/Writer Gary Fandel IOWA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION Craig Hill, president; Joe Heinrich, vice-president; Denny Presnall, secretary-treasurer and executive director; Edward G. Parker, general counsel. BOARD OF DIRECTORS (District 1) Carlton Kjos, Decorah (2) Charlie Norris, Mason City; (3) Phil Sundblad, Albert City; (4) Doug Gronau, Vail; (5) Mark Buskohl, Grundy Center; (6) Nick Podhajsky, Traer; (7) Andrew Hora, Riverside; (8) Calvin Rozenboom, Oskaloosa; (9) Jim McKnight, Afton. Family Living (ISSN 1941-5486) is published monthly by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, P.O. Box 670, Iowa Falls, IA 50126. Subscription price of $2 per year for mailing in the continental USA included in the dues of Farm Bureau members in Iowa. Additional subscription fee required for mailing outside of the continental USA. Periodical postage paid at Iowa Falls, Iowa. Please send change of address to your county Farm Bureau office. Postmaster send address changes to Family Living, Spokesman Press, P.O. Box 670, Iowa Falls, IA 50126. Editorial offices for Family Living are located at the Iowa Farm Bureau, 5400 University Ave., West Des Moines, Iowa 50266. Contact Family Living at 515-225-5416. Copyright 2014
Do you have a story idea for Family Living? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our article provides a good look at all of the effort that goes on behind the scenes as growers prepare their products for the weekly market. As all good farmers know, fruits, vegetables and other products don’t just show up at the market by themselves. To help vendors and consumers, the Iowa Farm Bureau is pitching in this spring to supply 1 million recyclable plastic bags to farmers market vendors throughout the state. The market bags help Iowa farmers save the extra cost of buying their own bags, while also making it more convenient for customers to safely transport the fresh and locally-grown produce home. In this issue, our food columnist Teresa Bjork writes about some of the outstanding markets she visits in her travels around the state. Teresa also writes about a website connecting gardeners and farmers to local pantries to provide healthy produce to families in need. This month, we also catch up with a kid rancher, 13-year-old Tyler Vohs of Moville, near Sioux City. Tyler is learning the cattle raising business from the ground up and is writing about it on his Facebook page, called The Kid Rancher. He’s gaining quite
table of contents
family living MAY 2014
In this issue, we also look at staying safe in summer activities. We preview the annual best burger in Iowa contest and catch up with EntreFest, where Iowa entrepreneurs gather to share ideas and collaborate. It’s an exciting issue for what promises to be an exciting month. And while you’re out enjoying the pleasant weather, keep an eye out for something that would make a good Family Living article. If you find a great park, bike trail, a distinctive shop or an Iowan who would make a good feature article, please let us know. We are always on the lookout for good features and many of our best come from reader suggestions. You can reach us at 515-226-5416 or email us at email@example.com.
Dirck Steimel Editor
Features Growing a local food hub Nicole Jonas and her family are working to make their Red Granite Farm a destination in central Iowa. page 4
Healthy living Tips to keeping your family safe this summer at the pool, on the bike trail or at the lake. page 7
Kid rancher Tyler Vohs is starting a cow herd from scratch and tells followers about it all on Facebook. page 8
Food Farm Bureau has donated a million recyclable bags to Iowa farmers markets. page 10
Linking Iowa Entrepreneurs The annual EntreFest helps Iowa entrepreneurs build knowledge and share ideas. page 11 Best burger contest It's May Beef Month, so the search is on for this year's top burger in Iowa. page 12 Garden connections A Master Gardener has developed a website to link gardeners with food pantries to provide fresh produce to those in need and reduce food waste. page 14
Departments Member benefits Members earn discounts to Adventureland, one of America's top amusement parks. page 3 Health A recent decision will help Farm Bureau members retain their current Wellmark health plans an additional two years. page 6
a following in social media, so make sure to check it out.
Appetite for Iowa Gearing up for a great farmers market season in Iowa. page 12 On the cover Tyler Vohs, kid rancher, has started his own cow herd with the help of a program to get young people into raising beef in Iowa. He also started a Facebook page to tell the world about his adventures. Cover photo by Gary Fandel
DISCOUNTS ON SPRING AND SUMMER FUN MEMBERS SAVE AT ADVENTURELAND, A WORLD-CLASS AMUSEMENT PARK Looking for a world-class family destination this summer that’s close to home? Iowa’s own Adventureland in Altoona was recently ranked as the fourth-best amusement park in the country, behind Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hol-
lywood, by American Mensa. Farm Bureau members can enjoy two parks — Adventureland and the adjoining Adventure Bay water park — at exclusive discount prices. Plus, you can save time and money by purchasing your dis-
Did You Know? You can earn up to $4,000 when you refer someone who becomes a Farm Bureau agent! The Farm Bureau Financial Services Recruiting Rewards program pays up to $4,000 when your referral meets certain milestones. You know what qualities a Farm Bureau agent should possess so you’re the perfect person to tell us
counted tickets online. When you arrive at Adventureland, skip the ticket line and go directly to the entrance gates. Farm Bureau members will also receive a coupon for $30 off a single night stay at Adventureland Inn when they download their tickets online. Adventureland offers more than 100 rides, shows and attractions, from roller coasters and thrill rides to live shows and children’s rides to suit the whole family. In June, Adventureland will also welcome its newest ride, the Storm Chaser. This 250-foot-tall tower swing ride promises to thrill even the most adventurous rider.
In addition, the Adventure Bay water park promises fun in the sun with 20 water slides, a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, the longest lazy river in Iowa, a kiddie splash pool, a sand beach sun deck and a swim-up bar. The Farm Bureau member discount price is $30 per ticket
for all ages, a savings of $10 on each regular ticket and $4 on each child (ages 4-9). Children 3 years and younger are admitted free. Go to www.adventurelandpark. com/farmbureau to create your own personal account to order tickets.
who should be one! Send an email to RecruitingRewards@FBFS.com
ORDER ADVENTURELAND TICKETS ONLINE:
with your name, member ID and your referral’s name.
By ordering Adventureland discounted tickets online, your tickets can be printed again, even at the Adventureland gate, if you misplace them. If you purchase tickets in advance and are unable to use them, you can request a full refund by Sept. 15. If you have questions about the discounted tickets for Farm Bureau members, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Adventureland amusement park, Adventure Bay water park and park hours, call toll-free 800-532-1286 or visit www.adventurelandpark.com.
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GROWING A GREEN BUSINESS HORTICULTURISTS PLANT A FRESH BUSINESS IN CENTRAL IOWA With the market growing for local produce, Nicole Jonas and her husband, Steve, saw an opportunity to start a business and raise a family in rural Iowa. Their Red Granite Farm sells at a farmers market in Ames and from their farm, just west of Story City in Boone County.
pringtime means big busi ness for Nicole Jonas and her family at Red Granite Farm in Boone County, where the young couple and their three children tend the land, pro ducing a bounty of produce and plants sold at the Ames farmers market and on site.
A DeWitt native, Jonas, 34, grew up on a traditional Iowa farm, as did her husband, Steve. They both graduated from Iowa State University with horticulture de grees: hers in ornamentals and his in fruits and vegetables. Both backgrounds have come in handy as the couple has worked hard to expand their agriculture business. “We moved to our farm in 2007 and planted our first garden then. We started selling at the North Grand Mall farmers market, and when baby number three came along, I quit my full-time job and began focusing on growing the perennial side of the business,”
STORY BY KRISTIN DANLEY-GREINER PHOTOS BY GARY FANDEL
Nicole Jonas tends to plants she has started in the greenhouse at Red Granite Farm. The farm grows all of the traditional produce along with more exotic plants to appeal to their diverse customer base in Ames and central Iowa.
Nicole Jonas said. THE FAMILY HAS BEEN prepping their 2.5 acres this spring, and they will grow popular produce
like sweet corn, peppers, broccoli, cabbage — “traditional summer vegetables,” Jonas said. They also have a 30-by-96-foot high tunnel greenhouse for growing peppers
and tomatoes. Because Ames is a culturally diverse college town, the Jonas family has grown produce per cus tomers’ special requests. “The customer base has a lot of turnover. Some customers we see every year, then others we see once or twice and they’ve moved on. To accommodate for the (different) ethnicities, we will try and raise different produce, such as differ ent varieties of cabbage. We grow eggplant for others, but don’t eat it ourselves,” Jonas said. “My kids are really good veggie eaters, but one likes broccoli cooked and another raw. So there are different prefer ences.” AT THE JONAS HOUSE, the vegeta bles are eaten fresh from the gar den, with the exception of sweet corn, and a significant amount of tomatoes are canned. “I have a freezer full of veggies and use the canned tomatoes yearround. We want to raise our kids on a farm, instill good farm values in them and provide fresh, healthy food for them and others,” Jonas said. “With my husband’s and my knowledge from school and our love of gardening and the orna mental side of the business, we hope to continue to grow the busi
Continued on page 5
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Iowa is home to more than 200 farmers markets throughout the summer; that’s fourth nationally in the number of farmers markets and second in the number of farmers markets per capita. Source: Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
4 family living MAY 2014
Continued from page 4 ness.” Each year, Red Granite Farm also sells an estimated 5,000 hardy perennials. “I try to grow more unique varieties. I do have a few lilies and hostas, but otherwise, my plants are ones you can’t find in big box stores, including many ornamental grasses. These aren’t turn-of-the mill,” Jonas said. In addition to the 2.5 acres’ worth of produce and more than 200 varieties of perennials raised, the Jonas family has a flock of chickens producing farm-fresh eggs for individual customers and area businesses. “WE RAISE 150 laying hens and are licensed and certified to sell to grocery stores and restaurants. We currently sell to a restaurant, a bakery, a retail outlet and the locker in Story City,” Jonas said. Once the spring and summer veggie season slows down, the Jonas family turns their attention to harvesting pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn for the fall. Their high tunnel greenhouse allows them to continue raising and selling tomatoes through November. “We definitely run our farm like a business. Some people sell to farmers markets as a hobby or bonus income, but we’re doing this as a sustainable source of income for our family, and so we treat it as a business,” Jonas said. While Steve Jonas works off the farm at Iowa State’s compost facility, Nicole Jonas stays busy raising crops and kids, trying to find a good balance between everything. “IT IS A CHALLENGE to be the main laborer on the farm with three young children and still have a good family life on the farm. Having a business where you live can be interesting. We have very busy lives eight months out of the year. We do have a few part-time helpers at the farmers market, then a college student comes out a couple of hours a week to help on the farm,” Jonas said. “We’re getting to that point where we’ve grown enough that in order to keep growing, we’re going to need help.”
Red Granite's raises many perennials, especially ones that are harder to find in big box stores. In addition, the farm has about 150 laying hens and sells eggs through several outlets. SUBMITTED PHOTO We enjoy inviting garden clubs and different groups of people to come out and tour the farms,” Jonas said. Red Granite Farm opened to the pub-
lic in late April and will remain open through the fall. The special event weekends will be May 30-June 1, June 27-29, Sept. 5-7 and Oct. 3-5.
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Five weekends this growing season, the Jonas family will host guests on the farm. Visitors can shop at the HomeShed, a vintage store run out of their barn by a family friend. The shop offers upcycled and recycled items, some of which serve as planters for Red Granite Farm plants. “We offer something for everyone.
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MAY 2014 family living 5
WELCOME HEALTH CARE NEWS EXISTING FARM BUREAU HEALTH POLICIES CAN BE EXTENDED AN ADDITIONAL TWO YEARS Iowa officials have allowed policy holders to extend existing health policies two years beyond 2014.
housands of Iowa Farm Bureau members currently receiving health insurance through the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF)/Wellmark health plan received welcome news recently when state officials issued an administrative action allowing
Iowa insurance carriers to extend the health insurance plans for current policyholders for an additional two years. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, along with Iowa Insurance Division Commissioner Nick Gerhart, issued the action allowing the extension. This extension is in addition to the one-year extension granted for 2014.
It will provide additional time for consumers to become more informed about the changes in the market without losing the current coverage they know and trust. Iowa’s decision means policyholders will have the option of keeping their existing health plan or selecting one of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. “We applaud the governor and the
insurance commissioner for undertaking a careful review of the issue,
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President Barack Obama had previously announced the federal government would allow these extensions, subject to approval of state regulatory authorities and health insurance carriers as well. This ruling allows all Iowa carriers to extend their plan year on existing small group and individual coverage through 2016. In announcing the decision, Branstad noted: “Iowans deserve predictability and stability in their health care coverage. The guidance issued today protects Iowans from losing plans they like, but also allows Iowans the flexibility to shop for a plan on the exchange.” The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation worked with Wellmark and the state in support of the extension. “This is outstanding news for all consumers and especially for our Farm Bureau members covered under these plans” said Steve Kammeyer, director of health insurance services at Farm Bureau. “These members will now have the choice to remain on their current plan if that plan meets their coverage needs and not be forced to move to another plan. Without this extension, thousands of our members would have had their old plans cancelled and would be required to enroll in new policies. This ruling still allows them the option to enroll in those new policies, but also provides them a choice,” Kammeyer said.
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KEEPING YOUR SUMMER SAFE HAVING FUN, WHILE PLAYING IT SAFE Summer is a fun time and these tips on water, bicycle, sun and pedestrian safety can keep our family in the game and out of the ER.
ith summer just around the corner, outdoor activities such as swimming, boating and biking are going to be on the rise as children begin to venture outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures. It's also a good time to think and act on safety. “In the summer months, we tend to focus more on bike, pedestrian and water safety,” said Amy Scarmon, Safe Kids coordinator in Woodbury County. “More people are out and about because of the nice weather, so educating adults on preventative measures for their children’s safety is important.” Safe Kids Iowa is a coalition within the Safe Kids Worldwide organization, which works to educate and prevent unintentional injuries. Coalitions in Iowa include the Safe
Kids Greater Des Moines, Safe Kids Johnson County, Safe Kids Linn County, Safe Kids Loess Hills and Safe Kids Woodbury County. BESIDES NEVER LEAVING children without adult supervision when they are in or around water, Scarmon notes that floating toys, such as noodles or arm bands, are toys, not safety flotation devices. Reg arding pedestrian safety, Scarmon advises that children should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing the road. “Children tend to be impulsive, and their maturity level doesn’t allow them to see the consequences of their actions, such as running out into the middle of traffic,” said Scarmon. Sun and heat safety is something else to consider during the summer months. To protect your skin from sun damage, Scarmon suggests putting on sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go outside, and to apply it every 30 minutes. “SUNSCREEN CAN BE WIPED off easily if the child is sweating or swimming, so reapplying sun-
STORY BY JODY KORTHAUS
screen is very important,” advised
SAFE KIDS WOODBURY County
hosts events and programs yearround such as bike rodeos, helmet
One of the biggest misconcep-
fittings and check-up events about
tions Scarmon comes across when
car seat safety. On May 10, there
speaking to the public about sum-
will be a kids fair in Sioux City. The
mer safety is leaving children unat-
event is free to the public and will
tended in a vehicle on a warm day.
include booths, games, safety vehi-
“Some parents think that leaving
cles, helicopters, fire trucks and car
their child in the car for only a
For more information about other safety events in Iowa and for additional safety tips, you can also call the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines at (515) 241-3262 or visit
few minutes is OK,” said Scarmon. “Temperatures can get very hot in
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Tips for bicycle safety:
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Tips for pedestrian safety:
• Children should be accompanied by an adult when crossing the road. • Set good examples by always using crosswalks and only crossing when signaled to. • Teach children to not chase balls out into the street. • Teach children to even be cautious around parked vehicles.
Tips for sun safety:
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For more information about the event, you can call the Mercy Child Advocacy Center in Sioux City at (712) 279-2548.
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MAY 2014 family living 7
STORY BY TERESA BJORK PHOTOS BY GARY FANDEL
AN IOWA TEEN LEARNS TO RAISE LIVESTOCK AND IS GROWING AN AUDIENCE ON FACEBOOK
When the Vohs family moved to an acreage, it just seemed natural for Tyler to start raising cattle. And thanks to a foundation grant, he's now starting his own cow herd.
ike most Iowa kids, Tyler Vohs enjoyed quite a few snow days off from school this winter. But instead of spending a cozy day inside playing video games, Tyler bundled up in his winter gear and trudged outside to help his dad unfreeze water lines for their cattle. A few weeks ago, Tyler got up extra early in the morning to check on a newborn calf before school started. He helped the little calf get up and around on her wobbly legs.
health, and she’s doing good.” TYLER IS ONLY 13 YEARS old, but don’t let his shaggy haircut and freckled face fool you. Tyler is an experienced rancher. At the age of 9, Tyler and his dad, Marty, met with a local banker to secure a loan to buy the family’s first 30 head of cattle. Then Tyler helped his dad build fence around a pasture during a muggy, buggy summer for their
While mom watches intently, Tyler Vohs tags a new calf on his family's acreage near Moville. With a grant from the Iowa Foundation Heifer program, Tyler has started his own cow herd and is spreading the word on social media about how farmers care for livestock.
new cattle herd. “It was a lot of work,” he said modestly. “There were a lot of fence posts.” THE VOHS FAMILY MOVED to an acreage in rural Woodbury County
oldest; Gunnar, 9; and Rylee, 6. All three kids are good helpers on the farm, but Deb said: “From the getgo, Tyler’s been pretty intent (on raising cattle).”
about five years ago, and the cattle came soon after. Tyler’s dad, Marty, grew up working for a local cattle farmer and competing in the
“We had to take good care of her Iowa high school rodeo, where he for a while, because (the mom) had her in the middle of the night. learned the ropes of ranching. Luckily, it wasn’t during a bad storm,” said Vohs, a seventh grader “We really wanted to farm, and we at Woodbury Central in Moville. wanted the kids to grow up on a “She had some trouble walking, farm, so that’s how it started,” said Tyler’s mom, Deb. and Deb like she wouldn’t stand up. But we Morton_IFB_FamilyLiving_5.1.14_Layout 1 4/18/14 10:50 AMMarty Page 1 were able to nurse her back to good Vohs have three children: Tyler, the
Last summer, Tyler showed his market steer at the Woodbury County Fair and won the top prize, the Grand Champion title. A few months later, a family friend and fellow cattle farmer encouraged Tyler to apply for the Iowa Foundation Heifer program. The program helps Iowa students start their own cattle herds and earn some money for college.
THROUGH THE PROGRAM, qualified seventh-grade students re ceive three heifers of any breed. In return, the students keep the heifers and the offspring, and then pay back $6,000 to the foundation after high school graduation. Tyler found out late last year that he was selected for the program. “I had to fill out an application. Then I had to get three recommendations, but I got four just to make sure,” he said. The recommendations came from his reading teacher, two local 4-H leaders and a teenage friend who also shows cattle.
TYLER CHOSE THREE MAINE Anjou heifers to start his herd. The breed is known for its excellent meat quality and ease of handling, a good characteristic for a beginning cattle rancher. “I picked Maine (Anjou) because I thought it would be a pretty good breed for me,” Tyler said. “I just like the Maines. I don’t know why I like them; it’s just something I like. I think they might become a little bit more popular in the future too,
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Continued from page 8 when my heifers get older. I plan to keep building my herd up bigger.” AS PART OF HIS heifer project, Tyler agreed to help promote Iowa’s cattle industry. Tyler asked his mom if he could start a Facebook page to show others what he’s up to on the farm. Deb said the two of them brainstormed names for the Facebook page and came up with the name “The Kid Rancher.” For now, Deb is in charge of the site, posting photos and updates on a regular basis. Deb carries a camera wherever they go. She snapped photos when Tyler showed cattle at the Iowa Beef Expo in Des Moines this winter, and she shared the first photos of Tyler bottlefeeding his new calf. “I’m pretty persistent about taking pictures,” Deb said. “Before the Facebook page, (Tyler) was always like, ‘Stop taking pictures.’ But now he’s a little bit better.” WITHIN TWO DAYS after its launch, “The Kid Rancher” Facebook page gained more than 100 followers and now boasts more than 320 followers as of press time. “I hope that it educates some people, and raises awareness about the (heifer) program if (students) are soon going to apply for the program,” Tyler said. Deb noted that Tyler is one of a few, if not the only, farm kid in his class,
even though Woodbury Central is a rural school. “SO FEW PEOPLE really have any experience with a farm …, so I think it’s just kind of a unique opportunity for a regular farm kid to show what happens on the farm,” Deb said. Deb said her son has learned that life on a farm isn’t always fun. The cattle don’t always cooperate out in the pasture or in the show ring, and it can be intimidating to work around animals that are much bigger than a teenage boy. “But Tyler, I’ve seen him just grow into being much more brave as he’s been helping dad all these years,” Deb said. “HE’S LEARNING THAT there is a lot more to life than just video games,” she continued. “Sometimes, he’s like, I don’t want to go out and do chores. I want to be a normal kid and watch a movie or whatever. But I’m just in awe of the skills that he has at this age that he’ll be able to put on his resume someday, and he’s not even old enough to realize how cool that is.” And with that compliment from Mom, his biggest fan, Tyler shrugs his shoulders and kicks his mud-covered boots in the dirt. Like a typical teenager, Tyler is modest, but he’s got big dreams. “I hope to always have cattle,” Vohs said. “I plan to always have cattle. But I think it would be awesome if I could actually be a grain farmer someday.”
For more information about the Iowa Foundation Heifer program, visit: http://iacattlemen.org/iowafoundationheiferprogram.aspx.
Tyler Vohs, above, checks his cattle as he works through the calving season, and, below, works with his mother, Deb, to get the cattle fresh water. Tyler, 13, has started what he hopes will be a lifelong career of caring for cattle.
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IT'S IN THE BAG
FARM BUREAU DONATES A MILLION RECYCLABLE BAGS TO FARMERS MARKETS ALL AROUND IOWA The bags help farmers reduce cost and help consumers tote home their locally-grown goodies. It's all part of Farm Bureau's support for all forms of agriculture in Iowa.
hen you’re out buying a few heirloom tomatoes or zucchini at your local farmers market this summer, it’s easy to forget to bring your own bags to package up your fresh finds for the trip home. This year, the Iowa Farm Bureau donated 1 million recyclable plastic bags to farmers market vendors throughout the state. The market bags help Iowa farmers save the extra cost of buying their own bags, while also making it more convenient for customers to safely transport the locally grown produce home.
“IOWA AGRICULTURE comes in many forms. Making these bags available to farmers market vendors across the state is one way to show our support for farmers of all types and sizes and the rural communities who benefit from these markets,” said Dana Ardary, Iowa Farm Bureau’s marketing manager.
Farm Bureau distributed the bags to market managers at the Iowa Farmers Market Conference in February. THE BAGS ARE THEN SHARED with more than 100 farmers markets and vendors in communities across the state. This was the sixth year that Iowa Farm Bureau has donated the bags. The Dickinson County Farm Bureau received the following
thank-you note from a Spirit Lake farmers market: “The Lakes Area Farmers Market would like to thank the Iowa Farm Bureau and all their members for donating the market bags to farmers markets across the state of Iowa for transporting fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from markets to home …; as a member and manager in Dickinson County, I would like to express my gratitude for the 35,000 bags our market received and for this generous support by Farm Bureau.”
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ENTREFEST CELEBRATES HOME-GROWN BUSINESSES FESTIVAL INSPIRES, GIVES HELP TO IOWA BUSINESS OWNERS
wning a business in rural Iowa can be a bit lonely. Are other entrepreneurs facing the same things you are? Where do you go when you need some encouragement?
Sandy Ehrig, economic dev elopment administrator for Iowa Farm Bureau, heard these com ments. As part of the Renew Rural Iowa program, her office began hosting an Entrepreneurial Roundtable Forum several years ago. “WE LEARNED VERY QUICKLY that the people who had resources to help these businesses grow didn’t always have a chance to collabo rate with each other or with the businesses,” she says. Out of this roundtable, and in cooperation with the University of Iowa Regional Business Center, the University of Northern Iowa and
Iowa Farm Bureau, EntreFest was born in 2007 and will be held May 14-16 this year in Iowa City. WHILE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES of entrepreneurs attend, Amanda Styron West, co-founder and CEO of Seed Here Studio in Cedar Rapids — whose company has been con tracted to handle the conference’s planning and logistics — says five main types of entrepreneurs gravi tate to the conference: small busi ness owners, high-growth start up founders, corporate innovators, economic development profession als and women business owners. “It’s a great way to learn new skills and best practices for how to make your business better and stronger,” Styron West says. “You’re able to get connected to other entrepre neurs and find resources for the problems you have.” The energy that surrounds the conference is the best part of it,
STORY BY VALERIE VAN KOOTEN Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds visits with entrepreneurs from around the state at last year's EntreFest. This year's event will be held in Iowa City May 14-16. Ehrig says. “From the first day, this conference had an energy and sur prise about it that is different from other conferences I’d attended,” she says. “Business owners can set up appointments with experts who want to help them; it’s very one-on-one.” THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE in c l u d e s i n t e n s i v e wo r k s h o p s where participants can dive into the “nitty-gritty” of a business, a
keynote speech by Lydia Brown, founder of Skywalk Group in Cedar Rapids, about Iowa being the last in the nation for women entre preneurs, and a highlight of the conference — a street festival that features home-grown Iowa busi nesses. In addition, the winner of the Dream Big, Grow Here contest will be announced at the confer ence. After pulling out of the recent
recession, the health of small busi nesses around the state is good, Ehrig says, especially for those businesses that continue to move forward. “Those businesses that have a niche and do their homework are doing well,” Ehrig says. “There are new venture funds and resources coming into play, and we’re realiz ing that we need to embrace inno vation in our state.”
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MAY 2014 family living 11
STORY BY TERESA BJORK PHOTOS BY GARY FANDEL
ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE BEST IN IOWA Iowans love their burgers, and 10 restaurants around our state are vying to have theirs chosen as the hot and juicy champ for 2014.
op it with cheese, layer on a couple strips of bacon and add a few jalapeno slices if you like the heat. Iowans love their burgers, whether stacked high with toppings or a simple squirt of ketchup and mustard.
The winner of the 2014 Iowa’s Best Burger contest will be announced during May Beef Month. The annual contest shines a spotlight on small-town Iowa cafes and gourmet restaurants that share one menu item in common: an all-beef burger that’s a feast for the eyes as well as your appetite.
chef’s “special sauce,” either mild or spicy. Make sure to order the onion rings or curly fries on the side. ACCORDING TO THE IOWA BEEF Industry Council, hamburgers and cheeseburgers represent 71 percent of the beef served in U.S. commercial restaurants. Americans eat 14 billion burgers a year, accounting for 60 percent of all sandwiches sold. If you put all those burgers in a line, they would circle the earth more than 32 times. For a list of Iowa’s Best Burger nominees and past winners, visit the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s website at iabeef.org.
AS ONE OF THIS YEAR’S Best Burger nominees, Ferg’s My Tighe’s in Grand Junction has seen an uptick in burger orders since the nominees were announced in April.
Mike and Jean Ferguson display their "My Tighe's Classic" burger at Ferg's in Grand Junction, and we give you a closer look at left, complete with the signature happy face bun. The Greene County restaurant's specialty is one of 10 burgers nominated in the Iowa Best Burger contest sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council. The contest to find Iowa's top burger is held each year to celebrate May Beef Month.
The “My Tighe’s Classic” is a onethird-pound, hand-pressed double bacon cheeseburger with the
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BY TERESA BJORK
FINALLY, IT'S FARMERS MARKET SEASON IN IOWA MOST MARKETS OPEN IN MAY AND RUN THROUGH OCTOBER Iowans are so enthusiastic about locally-grown food that we rank second in the number of farmers markets per capita. Take my challenge and find a new-to-you market in 2014.
Teresa Bjork is a features writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau. In addition to baking and cooking, she also enjoys gardening and eating her way across Iowa.
After a chilly spring and a few April snowflakes, it’s hard to believe that the Des Moines Farmers Market opens this year on May 3. Iowa farmers and food vendors will set up their booths — snow, rain or shine — on Saturday morning in downtown Des Moines to greet Iowans hungry for a first taste of summer. While the Des Moines Farmers Market is known as one of the biggest and most vibrant in the nation, Iowa is also home to more than 200 farmers markets throughout the summer, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). You can find these farmers markets on main streets, in parking lots and on town squares in communities large and small. Indeed, Iowans are such enthusiastic local foodies that our state ranks fourth nationally in the number of farmers market and second in the number of farmers markets per capita, according to IDALS. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering our relatively small population. Whenever I see a farmers market on my travels for work, I like to stop and meet the farmers and vendors who are selling their fresh produce, baked goods and jams. In northwest Iowa, Le Mars hosts a farmers market twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays
at the open-air Olson Cultural Events Center, just a few blocks away from the Blue Bunny Visitors Center, a muststop for an ice cream lover like me. In east-central Iowa, Toledo turns its town square into a mini summer festival on Friday afternoons, with a farmers market, local musicians and activities for the kids. I learned its best to arrive early before the kolaches, a local-favorite Czech pastry, sell out. In southern Iowa, the Clarke County farmers market in Osceola, located on the courthouse square on Tuesdays and Saturdays, offers some of the best tomatoes grown in Iowa. It’s there that I discovered an heirloom tomato variety, known simply as “mom’s tomato,” that the locals can’t get enough of. Last summer, there was even a farmers market here at the Iowa Farm Bureau and FBL Financial headquarters in West Des Moines. Most nearby farmers markets close before I get home from work, so it was nice to buy local veggies, meats and honey just steps away from the office. I could go on and on about the wonderful farmers markets across Iowa: some with just a couple growers, their garden veggies stacked up on card tables, or the big-city markets with dozens of vendors, working under custom-made canopies displaying their farm logos.
It’s also worth a drive to the state capital this summer to see the spectacle that is the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market.
Yet all are unique in how they cater to the tastes and culture of their local customers. As one foodie to another, I challenge you to discover a new-to-you farmers market this summer in Iowa. For example, if you’re a regular at the Ames farmers markets (a town that boasts three farmers markets on Saturday mornings), then drive east on Highway 30 and check out the Colo farmers market at Reed’s Station/Niland’s Café on Thursdays.
A fellow Iowan once told me that she tries to visit the Des Moines market at least three times a year — once in the spring, once in the summer and again the fall — so she can see how the garden bounty changes with the seasons. After all, sweet corn tastes better when you buy it straight from the Iowa farmer who grew it.
SHOP LIKE A FARMERS MARKET PRO When you visit a farmers market this summer, the Des Moines Farmers Market offers the following tips on its website (http://desmoinesfarmersmarket.com/): • It pays to get up early. Get to the market when it opens to find the best selection and the freshest produce. • Try something new. Buy something you haven’t tried before. The farmers market is the perfect place to get educated about food, if you make the effort. •Bring a cooler. Put a cooler in your car to keep food items cool when you buy at the market but won’t be going home. • Ask questions. Make sure to ask questions of the vendors when you see unfamiliar produce. Vendors and farmers love to share their knowledge and can even give you recipes and cooking tips. • Dress comfortably. Wear walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. The Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market is open rain or shine, so dress accordingly.
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GARDEN CONNECTIONS SHARING A SEASON'S BOUNTY WITH THOSE IN NEED A new program works to link home gardeners with food pantries to reduce waste and provide fresh produce to families in need.
s a Master Gardener, Gary Oppenheimer knows how to grow a bumper crop of cucumbers. Problem was, his wife was so tired of eating cucumbers, she told him not to bring anymore into the house.
So Oppenheimer, a New York resident, donated his extra garden produce to a local women’s shelter. Everyone at the shelter kept thanking him for the fresh produce, a rare treat when most food
donations are canned. From this exchange, Oppenheimer came up with the idea to start a website to connect gardeners and farmers with extra produce to local pantries that provide healthy foods to families in need. THE WEBSITE, AmpleHarvest.org, has since become a nationwide food-relief network that’s been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Points of Light Foundation, an organization in spired by President George H.W. Bush’s call to service. This spring, Oppenheimer was the keynote speaker for the 2014 launch of Cultivate Iowa.
STORY BY TERESA BJORK PHOTO BY GARY FANDEL
Coordinated by the Iowa Food Systems Council, Cultivate Iowa encourages low-resource Iowans to plant gardens to grow their own food and gardeners to donate extra produce to food pantries. EVEN THOUGH THE United States is the richest country in the world, hunger remains a challenge in our nation, noted Oppenheimer, who is executive director of AmpleHarvest.org. One out of six people in the U.S. is food insecure, which means they run the risk of not having enough food. In addi-
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Articulating Front Axle and Deck Heavy-Duty Cast Iron Spindles Welded Steel Deck Traditional Dual Lever Steering option For More Information:
GLIDDEN LINDE EQUIPMENT CO.. 712-659-3725 712-659-2186 Fax INDEPENDENCE BURCO SALES 319-334-4717 www.burcosales.com
IOWA FALLS COUNTRYSIDE TURF & TIMBER 800-584-6786 www.countrysidett.com
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MANCHESTER ADVANCED TURF POWER EQUIPMENT 563-581-7385 (319)360-8190 TOLEDO Z LINE LTD 641-484-6211
GLADBROOK GOOS IMPLEMENT, LTD. 800-542-3591 www.goosimplement.com
STORM LAKE VETTER EQUIPMENT 712-732-4252 www.vetterequip.com
POSTVILLE WEST BURLINGTON ELECTRIC MOTOR SHOP GEORGE'S LAWN MOWER 563-864-7351 & SMALL ENGINE REPAIR 319-754-5941
of the produce grown in this country isn’t consumed. Wi t h a g r e a t e r u n d e r s t a n d ing of the food waste problem, Oppenheimer said he started to see “chokepoints” in the foodrelief network that were keeping fresh foods from reaching the people who needed it. Oppenheimer explained that the challenge isn’t that we don’t have the food to share; it’s that the system isn’t set up to accept fresh food. “You’ve all been solicited for pantries at your house of worship or school. And what’s the one thing they always ask for? Boxes, jars, cans, no fresh food,” he said. “THE PROBLEM IS that the majority of food pantries don’t have fresh food, which means one out of every four children in the United States doesn’t have fresh food. Kids are growing up in this country thinking apples come sliced in cellophane and peas come from cans and not pods. You have a whole generation of kids who don’t know what fresh food actually looks like.” Meanwhile, more than 41.7 million Americans today are home gardeners, Oppenheimer noted. And gardeners often grow more produce than they can use, so the produce ends up in a landfill or compost pile. “It’s a wasted opportunity. Having a community where people are going hungry, and where people are putting food in a compost pile, seems wrong,” he said. USING HIS BACKGROUND in web design and technology, Oppenheimer worked with a team of volunteers to create AmpleHarvest.org to connect gardeners to local food pantries. On the website, food pantries can register to be added to a database list, and then gardeners can search by zip code to find the nearest pantry accepting produce donations. Pantries can also designate dropoff days on the website, so the food is delivered as quickly as possible to hungry families. Dozens of Iowa food pantries have signed up on AmpleHarvest.org. Oppenheimer says he has seen first-hand how food pantry visitors will flock to a table of fresh produce when it is available. “It opens up the opportunity for people to reach into their backyard instead of their back pocket to help their neighbors in need,” he said.
Visit the Best Food Fact’s website (http://www.bestfoodfacts.org / food-for-thought/too_much_not_ enough) to see an eye-opening infographic explaining the scope of U.S. food waste and hunger.
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PELLA TWO RIVERS COOPERATIVE 800-223-5512 www.tworivers.coop
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Family Living May 2014
AMES CENTRAL IOWA LAWN CARE 515-233-9485 Complete Sales & Service GLENWOOD GLENWOOD FARM EQUIPMENT 800-325-0300 www.glenwoodfarmequipment. com
The Iowa Farm Bureau protects the future of your farm and your neighbors farms all year long. Today, membership can save you up to $500 on new Case IH tractors and equipment!*
ON FARMALL® COMPACT A & B SERIES TRACTORS, ROUND & SMALL SQUARE BALERS, DISC MOWER CONDITIONERS, SICKLE MOWER CONDITIONERS & CASE IH SCOUT™ UTILITY VEHICLES
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RV & Boats
*A current Farm Bureau membership veriﬁcation certiﬁcate must be presented to the Case IH dealer in advance of product delivery to receive the incentive discount. Farm Bureau Members can download a certiﬁcate at www.FBVerify.com/caseih. Not a Farm Bureau member? Reach out to your state Farm Bureau to join today.
NEVADA VETTER EQUIPMENT 515-382-5496 New Hwy 30 Store or vetterequip.com
DUBUQUE ROEDER IMPLEMENT 563-557-1184 www.roederimplement.com DYERSVILLE SCHERRMAN'S IMPL & APPLIANCE 563-875-2426 www.scherrmansimplement.com
712.324.5395 | Exit 31, Sheldon, IA
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WEST LIBERTY H.D. CLINE COMPANY 319-627-2011 Tipton,IA www.hdclineco.net
GRINNELL GRINNELL IMPL. STORE 641-236-3195 firstname.lastname@example.org
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WE COVER IOWA LIKE A BLANKET.
A big, soft, f luffy one.
AmericInn.com | 800.634.3444 Algona..................................................515.295.3333 Iowa Falls ................................................ 641.648.4600 Clear Lake ........................................... 641.357.8954 Pella ........................................................... 641.621.1421 Fairfield ............................................... 641.451.6600 Stuart ........................................................515.523.9000 Fort Dodge .........................................515.576.2100 Webster City ..........................................515.832.3999 Chanhassen, MN .............................952.934.3888
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