On-farm pollinator habitat field day at Mustard Seed Farm – July 25, Ames

For Release: July 15, 2015

AMES, Iowa — Pollinators such as honeybees and native bees play a vital role in agriculture, helping to pollinate not just fruit and vegetables, but some field crops – and even forage consumed by livestock. As bee populations have declined, many farmers have been looking for ways to attract pollinators to their farms.

Mustard Seed Farm, a community produce farm north of Ames, has used a variety of strategies to create pollinator habitat on the farm, including 5 acres of tallgrass prairie buffers; a beneficial insect bank; prairie gardens; perennial strips in annual vegetable beds; flowering trees and shrubs; and annual flowers.

Learn more about these strategies – and other approaches to creating on-farm pollinator habitat – at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on Saturday, July 25, from 2-5 p.m., hosted by Mustard Seed Farm team member Nate Kemperman and friends. The event – “Establishing On-Farm Pollinator Habitat” – is free to attend, and will include snacks after the program. Mustard Seed is located at 366 W Ave., about 16 miles northwest of Ames.

The field day is sponsored by Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District, Women Food and Agriculture Network and Wheatsfield Cooperative.

Guests will get to tour and discuss the various pollinator habitats at Mustard Seed Farm, and learn about pollinator diversity, perennial habitat in annual vegetable production, and more. With insects expected to be active, chances are good for seeing the pollinator habitats in action. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own ideas for creating pollinator habitats to share. The event will also feature a few short presentations by farm members, and potentially a native bee house-making demonstration.

In addition, guests will learn about on-farm pollinator research at Mustard Seed Farm from Ai Wen, with University of Northen Iowa, and Will Osterholz, a graduate student in agronomy at Iowa State University and a Mustard Seed team member. Will says that the research, conducted with Practical Farmers, sought to quantify the abundance and diversity of pollinators in different habitats on the farm.

“The farm isn’t very big, but even so we were able to see differences in pollinator diversity between well-developed prairie and a few hundred feet away, where it was just lawn or grass,” Will says. “Since it started, one of the farm’s main goals has been to increase environmental quality, and pollinators are a big part of that – especially because of concerns about pollinator health. Creating habitat around the farm has been one of our main ways to address that problem – so the results gave us confirmation about our efforts.”

Guided by faith and ethics, Mustard Seed Farm is an all-volunteer community farm dedicated to sustainable living, love of neighbor, land stewardship and creating an environment in which everyone can participate in growing and eating delicious, healthy, locally produced food. The farm includes a small CSA and provides food for low-income families, shelters and soup kitchens in the area.

Directions: From I-35, take Exit 123. Head west on 130th Avenue for 8.5 miles, then turn south onto W Avenue. In seven-tenths of a mile, Mustard Seed Farm will be on the east side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit https://www.practicalfarmers.org.


Will Osterholz | Mustard Seed Farm | (773) 865-9228 | wosterho@gmail.com | www.mustardseedfarm.org

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | tamsyn@practicalfarmers.org