Field day at Sundog Farm will explore transferring farm to next generation, vegetable production – July 17, near Solon

For Release: June 30, 2016

SOLON, Iowa — Many farm transfer stories fall into one of two categories: transfers that occur within a family, or those involving a sale to an unrelated stranger. The dearth of other farm transfer models has been both a challenge – and an opportunity – for beginning farmer Carmen Black and her farm mentor, long-time vegetable producer Susan Jutz, as they have worked on their plan to transfer Susan’s farm to Carmen.

“In our case, I’ve known Susan my whole life. She was my 4-H leader and I was friends with her kids growing up,” says Carmen, who in May officially took over Susan’s farm, ZJ Farm, and began operating as Sundog Farm.

“We have a pretty close relationship and I want to do the same kind of farming, raising vegetables – but we’re not related. This makes our situation unique, because in some ways it’s similar to a family land transfer, but it’s also financially different.”

Carmen and Susan invite farmers and the public to learn more about their unique farm transfer story at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Sunday, July 17, from 2-5 p.m., near Solon (5025 120 th St. NE, a few miles northeast of town). The event – “ZJ to Sundog: Sharing Knowledge and Passing on the Farm” – is free to attend and will feature a potluck after the program. Guests are asked to bring a dish to share and their own table service. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or, by Thursday, July 14.

The first part of the field day will include a field tour and discussion with Susan and Carmen about their systems for pest management in vegetable production. They will discuss field scouting, cultural pest management, products they’ve tried and those they prefer. During the second part of the program, Carmen and Susan will share their farm transition story.

The field day will be a special opportunity for guests to learn from Susan’s many years of experience raising vegetables before she retires. Susan began Local Harvest CSA on ZJ Farm in 1996. After almost 20 years building a successful business and farm, she began looking for an opportunity to transition her farm to the next generation. This process was completed in May 2016, when Susan sold her farm and business to Carmen.

“The situation has been advantageous for both of us,” says Carmen, who has worked on the farm with Susan for five years. “It’s been awesome for me to have an existing customer base and not have to start from scratch. And Susan didn’t have to go through a realtor, have a farm auction or do other things you’d have to do if the buyer didn’t want to grow vegetables. But the lack of examples or precedents has made it difficult to navigate things like bankers and lawyers. This current transition is much less common.”

Directions from Solon: Travel 3 miles north on IA Hwy 1. Turn right (east) onto 120 th Street. The farm is on the right side of the road; look for a large white house and barn.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers’ “2016 Field Day Guide,” available at, or for free in print. To request a guide by mail, call the PFI office at (515) 232-5661.

Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers,Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.


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


Carmen Black | Sundog Farm | (319) 331-3957 | |

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