HANCOCK, Iowa — For beginning farmers, surviving the first few years requires an open mind, the ability to acknowledge when some aspect of the business isn’t working and a willingness to adapt.
Those words ring true for Jayme Fowler, who raises vegetables, herbs and flowers using draft horses at Wild Furrow Farm in Hancock, and is just finishing her first year of farming. Jayme’s first season was more difficult than she expected, and she plans to do some serious reflection so she can make meaningful adjustments for next season.
“Learning how to establish efficient systems, and thinking about how to manage the work flow, are critical to surviving as a farm the first few years,” Jayme says.
Jayme will share her first season’s struggles and experiences at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day she is hosting on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 3-5 p.m., in Hancock (206 E. Denton St., on the north side of town). The field day – “Looking Back at the First Year of Farming” – is free to attend and will include a potluck meal after the field day. Guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share.
Jayme will lead a tour of the farm and discuss challenges she has encountered, as well as lessons she has learned as she wraps up her first year of farming. The field day is intended to be interactive and constructive, highlighting the struggles of a beginning farmer and ideas for how Jayme can adapt her approach next year – and guests are invited and encouraged to share their own thoughts and advice on how Jayme can do things differently next year.
Topics Jayme intends to cover – and hopes to hear feedback on – include vegetable production efficiencies and management, farm layout and packing shed tips. Jayme will also share her experience converting a tractor-based vegetable farm to one based on draft-horse power. If conditions are right, she may also do a demonstration with her Suffolk draft-horse team.
“I hope guests will leave with a better sense of how to evaluate current systems for their farm, and how to improve them,” Jayme says. “I also hope they will take away a better sense of what to consider when thinking of renting land for farming.”
From Avoca (from the north): Take U.S. 59 south toward Hancock. In Hancock, turn right (north) onto N Main Street, then right (east) on E Denton Street; Wild Furrow Farm will be on the left (north) side.
From Oakland (from the south): Take U.S. 59 north toward Hancock. In Hancock, turn left (north) onto N Main Street, then right (east) on E Denton Street; Wild Furrow Farm will be on the left (north) side.
Practical Farmers’ 2017 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Center for Rural Affairs; Fertrell; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; Lemken; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; Riverside Feeds, LLC; The Scoular Company; Trees Forever; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); Upper Iowa Audubon Society; USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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