Field day at Crooked Gap Farm will explore pastured pork production – Aug. 5, near Knoxville

For Release: July 21, 2016


Ethan Book | Crooked Gap Farm | (641) 891-2112 | |

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

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — When Ethan and Rebecca Book of Crooked Gap Farm started raising pastured pigs eight years ago, they started small and gradually expanded as their experience and markets grew. Part of their expansion strategy involved rotating pigs through the woodland on their farm.

Now the Books raise more than 100 Hereford hogs on their farm near Knoxville, direct-marketing them through a meat CSA, selling whole and half-hogs and working with a few restaurants. This year, they are planning to scale up again, a process Ethan says will require another shift in management.

“Just about everybody can raise six pigs,” Ethan says. “But when you get larger than that, there are lots of things you need to do, from adding facilities to changing your management practices.”

Ethan and Rebecca invite farmers and the public to learn more about raising pigs outdoors and scaling up production at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosing on Friday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., near Knoxville (1707 80th Ave., about 7.5 miles southwest of town). The event – “Pork from Pasture (and Woodlot) to Plate” – is free to attend and will include a lunch featuring all-pork hot dogs from Crooked Gap Farm, crafted by Story City Locker. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, or (515) 232-5661, by Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Guests will get to tour the farm and learn about many aspects of pasture and woodlot pork production, from farrowing-to-finishing to selling the meat. The Books will discuss issues like fencing; water sources; feeding methods and rations; marketing methods; customer relationships; using social media; different housing for different seasons; and considerations when scaling up.

In addition to Hereford hogs, Ethan and Rebecca raise other heritage and rare-breed meat animals, including Dexter cattle, Katahdin sheep, Champagne d’Argent rabbits and a variety of slow-growing chickens. This year, they are in the process of downsizing their cattle herd in order to expand their pig enterprise into the pasture.

“Raising pigs outdoors is a value of ours. We used our woodlots when we were expanding our pigs because we had more than we could carry, as far as cattle and sheep grazing, on the pastures,” Ethan says. “Now we’ve maxed out the carrying capacity of the woodlot and want to expand the pigs into the pasture. Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that pigs are where our farm can have the most success.”

Directions from the east or west on IA Hwy 5: Take Exit 64, and head south on 110th Place; this road becomes gravel. Continue on the gravel until 110th Place heads west and becomes Nixon Street. Continue on Nixon Street until it turns south and becomes 92nd Avenue. Follow 92nd Avenue until you come to a T-intersection; turn right (west) onto Perry Street. Perry Street turns to the south and then back to the west; follow Perry Street until you reach another T-intersection. Turn right (north) onto 80th Avenue. Crooked Gap farm is on the left, the first drive (you’ll see a red pole building house).

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