AMES, Iowa — Women across Iowa have the opportunity to visit diverse agricultural businesses through six one-day bus tours this summer. Each tour is designed by local groups of women in agriculture and led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county professionals and the Women in Ag program. Interested persons may sign up for a local tour, take a tour across the state, or join several tours.
While showcasing Iowa’s agricultural diversity, each tour will feature discussion around five common agricultural risks: 1) costs and benefits of production practices, 2) safety of families and employees, 3) impacts of changing regulation, 4) storing and marketing farm products, and 5) managing soil and water.
The tour hosts are graciously opening up their farms and agribusinesses to demonstrate their unique spins on niche to commodity agricultural production, processing and marketing. Extension specialists will add expertise and guide discussion along the way. Bus rides provide an opportunity for guided discussion, informative video clips and networking with other women interested in Iowa agriculture.
Below is a brief summary of the tours.
- Thursday, June 14, 9:00 am to 4:15 pm – Led by Angie Strohman, Program Educator, Palo Alto County
- This tour begins and ends at the ISU Extension and Outreach – Palo Alto County offices in Emmetsburg, IA. Women will travel by bus to Bode’s Moonlight Gardens, where the family produces and markets vegetables through a CSA and farmer’s markets. After stopping by the SchoolPark for a catered lunch, participants will visit the Wirtz Farm. The Wirtz family grows organic row crops. We’ll take a look at the regulations for organic production as well as the farm’s water and soil management practices. At the POET ethanol plant, speakers will highlight how ethanol impacts corn markets, discuss water recycling, and share innovations in renewable energy production.
- Friday, June 15, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm – Led by Mary Ebert, Program Coordinator, Guthrie County
- Leaving from the Guthrie County fairgrounds in Guthrie Center, this bus tour makes the first stop at Early Morning Harvest. The diverse farm produces vegetables and herbs, free-range chicken eggs, grass-fed beef, live tilapia using an aquaponics system, honey, and locally milled small grains. Boxed lunches will be provided during the bus ride over to the Lauritsen Cattle Company, co-owned and managed by Clara _________. The company offers fully computerized real time data along with retained or investor ownership experiences. The facilities include mounds, shades, sprinklers and windbreaks to enhance animal comfort. A visit to Veterinary Associates of Manning rounds out the tour. From cats and dogs to piglets to exotic animals, this rural business cares for animals with state of the art technology and specialized services.
- Thursday, June 28, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm – Led by Susan Schmitz, Program Coordinator – Hamilton County
- This tour conveniently meets at the K-Mart just off Highway 20 in Webster City. Women will explore the oxbow lakes and river bends near the Boone River and learn about the water quality projects initiated in the watershed. The bus then travels to Lost Lake Farm, where the milk from 24 cows is turned into artisan cheese and sold locally. Tour participants learn about cheese production and sample the niche products. From there the group travels to Three Sisters Farm where organic sheep are produced. We’ll enjoy a catered lunch on the farm. Speakers will discuss water and soil management practices including strip tillage, bioreactors, buffer strips and cover crops. We’ll learn about sheep production along with predator and pasture management.
- Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 12:00 pm to 7:30 pm – Led by Madeline Schultz, ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Program Manager
- Uniquely, this event is offered as an optional pre-conference tour and meets at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel in Ankeny on August 1, 2018. The 12th Annual Iowa Women in Agriculture conference will be held on August 2, 2018 at the Iowa FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Women may register for the tour only, conference only, or both events. A boxed lunch will be served as the bus heads out to the Louis Dreyfus Company in Grand Junction, IA. Our hosts will explain ethanol production and discuss the impacts of legislation on the industry. The tour continues with a visit to the ISU Dairy Farm and Ag 450 Farm. Participants may choose to learn about dairy or swine production along with manure management and composting. Geisler Farms – Growing Family Fun provides a fun final destination with a barbeque dinner and networking reception in the Red Shed wedding venue. The agri-tourism business was started in 2005 on a third-generation family farm. Geisler farm hosts the public on weekends during September and October for a corn maze, pumpkin patch and family activities; sells precut Christmas trees from mid-November through mid-December; and hosts weddings and receptions from April through August.
- Friday, August 24, 2018, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm – Led by Cortney Garrington, Executive Director, Warren County
- Women will meet at Capital City Fruits in Norwalk, IA, for a tour of the food packaging and distribution company established in 1949. The company sources, packs, and delivers fresh produce across the Midwest. The hosts will discuss their water recycling program. We’ll take a short drive to visit La Quercia (La Kwair-cha), established in 2005. The company makes artisan cured meats such as prosciutto and coppa. Responsibly produced ingredients are crafted by hand into foods that express the beauty and bounty of Iowa. The tour group then heads to Annelise Winery for lunch. The family-owned winery, vineyard, and event center opened in 2014. We’ll make a quick stop at the neighboring lavender farm before heading off to Goodhue Farm. The group will visit on-farm trials that include sweet corn, organic, and commodity corn.
- Friday, September 2, 2018, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm – Led by Julie Christensen, Office Coordinator, and Teresa Wiemerslage, Food Systems Coordinator, Allamakee County
- This tour meets at the WW Homestead Dairy LLC, a milk processing company began by two farmers, in Waukon, IA. The bus will head out to the Ryan Collins farm were pasture grazing and pond access are managed for beef cows and calves. Ryan Collins also owns Tri-State Precision Ag and will talk about how he uses GPS to manage soil fertility. Lunch will be at the Empty Nest Winery with a guest speaker from the Waukon Feed Ranch. The group will continue on to the Jason Howe Farm. This diverse farm includes dairy, beef and trout. The economics of robotic milking, improved cattle crossings, fish stocking and feed assessment topics will all be covered.
The cost for each tour is $25.00 and pre-registration is required. Register on-line at www.extension.iastate.edu/womeninag or contact the county tour leaders for assistance. These tours is made possible through the support of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture – North Central Extension Risk Management Education program and Farm Credit Services of America.
Click the link for a flyer: Palo Alto_Registration_WIA Tours_2018_1
— Callie Greiner and Madeline Schultz, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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