ADEL, Iowa — Maury and Mary Wills, of Wills Family Orchard, will host a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day exploring organic apple production on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to noon, at their farm near Adel (33130 Panther Creek Road, about 7.5 miles southwest of town).
The event – “Managing an Organic Apple Orchard” is free to attend, and will start off with apple cider doughnuts. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union and Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc.
Maury and Mary started planting trees and building their home in 1993, and have slowly expanded the organic apple and peach orchard while crafting homemade value-added products for their farm store. The Wills now have 5 acres of certified organic apple trees; 1 acre of certified organic peach trees; 5 acres of pumpkins, winter squash and ornamental gourds; and a 1-acre corn maze.
Maury is also the bureau chief of Agricultural Diversification and Market Development, and program manager of the Organic Certification Program, at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
At the field day, Maury will discuss the opportunities and challenges of growing organic apples, and on a small scale, peaches. Guests will get to tour the apple handling facility, commercial kitchen and farm store. The Wills will also share how they slowly built their farm, and how their children fit into the operation.
Topics covered will include:
- Apple varieties and rootstocks
- Scouting for pests and disease
- Organic pest and disease management
- Organic understory management
- Deer fence
- Peach production
- On-farm bird habitat
- Building a family business
Directions to the field day are available on Practical Farmers’s website.
This event is part of Practical Farmers’ main 2019 field day season, which includes 40 events across Iowa, and the region, on topics spanning the agricultural spectrum. The field days are meant to help connect farmers with their peers for networking and farmer-to-farmer learning.
Practical Farmers’ 2019 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Bio Till; Center for Rural Affairs; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers Inc.; H.A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture – Iowa State University; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University; Iowa State Department of Agronomy; La Crosse Seed; Man@Machine; MOSA Certified Organic; Niman Ranch; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; River Valley Cooperative; Scoular; Sunderman Farm Management; Sunrise Foods International; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education; Trees Forever; Unilever; Welter Seed & Honey Company.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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