Decades ago, Iowa farms produced an average of 35 crops. Today, our farms overwhelmingly produce an average of only two annual row crops – impacting our state’s natural resources and economic health. No resources currently exist that provide a comprehensive guide for landowners or farmers who seek to learn how to grow a diversified range of fruits, vegetables and meats that will succeed in Iowa.
With the support of SARE, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) will research and develop an Iowa Landowners Guide to Sustainable Food Crops to educate landowners and farm consultants on how to increase sustainable crops and diversify our agriculture.
The guide will advance SILT’s mission to protect land to grow healthy food by collating lessons and information from experienced growers including Red Fern, Rolling Acres and Alexander Farms, and from nonprofits and higher education institutions. The guide will align with an interactive website and be distributed to Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) offices and landowners statewide.
This project will generate interest, education, and action around developing markets for expanded crops and by offering access to critical local knowledge and resources that will build a more diverse agriculture and vibrant local food economy.
Project objectives from proposal:
Work with a minimum of five experienced Iowa growers, nonprofits, and higher education institutions to research, collect, and collate information critical to providing guidance to grow a diverse range of crops
Cultivate diverse project ownership and build upon a network of committed partners willing to support implementation and advocacy of sustainable food production in Iowa
Leverage current NRCS grant funding to provide education and outreach to landowners in more than 10 communities across Iowa
- Identify 25 farmers/landowners committed to producing by at least two new crops within two years
- Conduct 10+ outreach and education activities to share project results