Field day will explore benefits of mentoring, collaborative CSAs – July 30, near Avoca and Atlantic

For Release: July 19, 2016


Denise O’Brien | Rolling Acres Farm | (712) 243-3264 | |
Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

AVOCA and ATLANTIC, Iowa — For many beginning farmers, having an experienced farm mentor to turn to for advice and guidance can mean the difference between success and failure. But this mentoring relationship has benefits for both parties, says Denise O’Brien.

Denise operates Rolling Acres Farm with her husband, Larry Harris, raising organic produce for a CSA. She has been mentoring beginning farmers Amber Mohr and Jeremy Hall, of Fork Tail Farm, for the last few years. The two farms collaborate on a CSA, and Denise says Amber plays an integral role in making decisions about both the CSA and farm management at Rolling Acres Farm.

“Although the final decisions are made by me, there is a lot of discussion and shared information to get to those decisions,” Denise says. “Amber is an integral part of deciding what goes in the CSA shares, what needs to be planted and how the produce is distributed.”

These two farm families will share their experiences with mentorship and their collaborative work arrangement at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Saturday, July 30, from 2 to 7 p.m., near Avoca and Atlantic. The field day will start at Fork Tail Farm (1044 County Road F66, near Avoca), and will move to Rolling Acres Farm (59624 Chicago Rd., near Atlantic) at 4 p.m. The event – “Working Together: Benefits of Mentoring and Collaborating” – is free to attend and will include a meal. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or, by Wednesday, July 27. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union, Niman Ranch and Sustainable Iowa Land Trust.

Guests will learn about the benefits and best practices of mentorship from the perspective of both mentee and mentor, and how this relationship differs from an internship or employment. This topic will include discussion of Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program and Labor4Learning Program. The benefits of a collaborative CSA – such as diversifying crop risks and responsibilities – will also be discussed, along with logistical considerations and how to make sure this relationship is fair for both parties.

In addition, learn how one farm family (Amber and Jeremy) manages production on less than an acre with very limited time, and how the other farm family (Denise and Larry) uses a moveable high tunnel and greenhouse, along with organic certification. Kent Morris, a neighbor and equipment specialist, will also speak at the event.

Directions to Fork Tail Farm: From I-80, take Exit 40, for Avoca, and drive east; then take the first right onto Co Rd F66 (just as you see the “Entering Shelby County” sign). Follow Co Rd F66 as it veers right and briefly becomes Juniper Road; then turn left to stay on Co Rd F66. Fork Tail Farm is the first farm on the right; look for a big white house and a big red barn.

To Rolling Acres Farm from the north: From I-80, take Exit 54, for Elk Horn / IA Hwy 173. Drive 1.5 miles south on IA Hwy 173 to Chicago Road. Turn left (east), and drive 0.5 mile to the first house on the left (north). From the south: From Atlantic, go west on IA Hwy 83 (Marne Road) for about 3 miles, then turn north on IA Hwy 173 toward I-80. Drive 3.5 miles to Chicago Road, turn right (east) and drive 0.5 mile; Rolling Acres is the first farm on the left (north).

About Fork Tail Farm:  Amber and Jeremy have operated Fork Tail Farm since 2014 on the 4.5 acres surrounding the homestead property farmed by Amber’s grandparents. They have a flock of free-range laying hens, and also raise pastured chickens, turkeys and rabbits. They grow chemical-free produce for the collaborative CSA with Rolling Acres Farm, and sell through the Avoca Main Street Farmers Market and to wholesale markets.

About Rolling Acres Farm:  Rolling Acres Farm has been in organic production since 1976; the farm is organically certified through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Denise and Larry have a moveable high tunnel that was constructed through an NRCS program; they raise vegetables and fruit for two CSAs in Omaha, including one that offers payroll deduction for employees. They also sell through Farm Table Delivery, Lone Tree Foods LLC and the Atlantic Hy-Vee.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days occur rain or shine, and 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.

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