Registration is open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 annual conference, “Mapping Our Future”

Featuring “Map of My Kingdom” play, two pre-conference short courses and 29 farmer-focused workshops


For Release: November 13, 2014

AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting registrations for its 2015 annual conference, “Mapping Our Future,” which will take place Jan. 23-24 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. All are welcome to attend. Register online at

This year’s theme spotlights the decisions Iowa farmers face as they wrestle with land management and farm transfer, erosion and soil health, price and weather volatility – including a range of possible solutions to help make farms more resilient and connected in the future. From farmer-led sessions on extended crop rotations, irrigation and land transition to pollinator habitat, profit margins and grazing systems, attendees will come away with ideas for how to chart their own farming futures.

Tama County farmland owners and stewards Larry and Margaret Stone say they’re excited about the diverse scope of sessions at Practical Farmers’ 2015 conference.

“Soil ecology, crop rotations and diversity, cover crops, prairies to improve land health, biodiversity, ‘Map of My Kingdom’ – what a great lineup of topics for the PFI annual conference,” Larry says. “All this plus the opportunity to network, trade ideas and learn from other Iowans who love our land. We’re looking forward to a rewarding experience.”

Pre-Conference Short Courses: The conference has two short course options: “Tell Your Story: The Farm Legacy Letter” and “Healthy Soil for Healthy Crops.” Both courses run Thursday, Jan. 22 from 1-7 p.m. and continue Jan. 23 from 8-11:30 a.m., at Oakwood Road Church, on the south side of Ames.

Workshops: Attendees can choose from 29 in-depth workshops spanning topics as diverse as multi-species grazing, non-GMO crops, crafting an herbicide plan, energy conservation, re-establishing on-farm prairie, getting started in organics, business planning and making the most of a meat bundle. In addition, attendees will get to choose from 10 Saturday morning breakfast sessions, as well as eight “U-Pick” sessions on topics selected this fall by Practical Farmers members.

Play Performance: The conference will feature a performance of “Map of My Kingdom,” a play about the critical issue of land transition that was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Iowa playwright Mary Swander. The play tackles difficult issues such as who gets the farm, how planning – or lack of it – affects family dynamics, scenarios of struggle and strife, and family and land viability. Mary is an author, the former Poet Laureate of Iowa and co-founder of AgArts, a national organization that imagines and promotes healthy food systems through the arts.

Registration: Special rates are available for students and PFI members. Those who pre-register by Jan. 15 will save $10 per day. Register online at or by contacting Erica Andorf at or (515) 232-5661.

Friday Workshops:

  • Get the Dirt on Soil Ecology
  • Multi-Species Grazing with Cows and Pigs
  • Crop and Market Diversity for a Profitable Farm
  • Nose-to-Tail Cooking and Dining
  • Beginning Organic: Transitioning, Certifying and Q&A
  • Cards on the Table: Putting Farm Financial Statements in Context
  • Up on the Rooftop: Energy Conservation and Solar PV

Saturday Workshops:

  • Growing and Marketing Non-GMO Crops
  • Housing for All (Species): Livestock Facility Options and Designs
  • Recordkeeping Analysis Platforms for Crop and Livestock Farmers
  • Recipe for Success: Making Quality Compost
  • In-Field Practices for Organic Vegetable Production
  • Real-Life Business Plan Vetting
  • Innovative Landowner-Farmer Partnerships
  • Iowa Farms in a Changing Climate
  • Rotations and Diversity: How to Shake It Up
  • What’s the Deal With Cover Crops, Livestock and Herbicides?
  • He’s a Rebel: Grazing Management for Resiliency
  • Working Together to Reduce Drift
  • Tangled Up in Drift Tape: Irrigation Set-Up and Strategy for Vegetable Crops
  • Back to Our Roots: Re-Establishing On-Farm Prairie for Multiple Goals
  • “Map of My Kingdom” Follow-Up Discussion
  • An Iowa Perspective on Cover Crop Species
  • Niche Pork Marketing
  • Taking a Global View of Farmland Conservation and Biodiversity
  • The Right Tool for the Job … And for You!
  • Don’t Give It Away! Vegetable Pricing and Philosophy
  • Walk-In Cooler Construction and Efficiency
  • Farm Transfer with Farming and Non-Farming Heirs

U-Pick Topics:

  • Beginning Farmers: Reflect on Start-Up Years
  • Fruit Trees 101: Types and Care
  • Spirituality in Agriculture
  • Adding Specialty Crops to a “Traditional” Iowa Farm
  • Food System Development: What Role Do Support Organizations Play?
  • Economic Values of Conservation and Cropping Diversity
  • Grazier Gear Show-and-Tell: Equipment to Make Grazing Management Easier
  • Strategically Adding Prairie to Working Land to Improve Farmland Health

Saturday Breakfast Meeting Topics:

  • Chat with Jill Clapperton, rhizosphere ecologist
  • Chat with Todd Nichols, specialty fruit and vegetable farmer
  • Chat with Blake Vince, corn, soybean, winter wheat and cover crop farmer
  • Chat with Jim Van Der Pol, livestock farmer and writer
  • Community Supported Agriculture: Share Plans for 2015
  • Non-GMO Crops
  • Preserving Food to Savor the Harvest
  • In Demand: Opportunities to Sell Meat And Dairy to Wholesale Markets
  • Non-Operator Landlords: Increasing Conservation, Helping Beginning Farmers
  • Thinking About Renewable Energy?

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 annual conference is supported by several major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Calcium Products; eMerge Genetics; Iowa Learning Farms; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy and Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Iowa SARE; Sustainable Farm Partners; and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit


Sally Worley | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |