Lacewing Acres field day will explore options for setting up a vegetable farm – Aug. 7, near Ames

For Release: July 26, 2016

AMES, Iowa — Choosing to start a farm may be one of the hardest decisions a beginning farmer makes. But committing to that career path is merely the first of many decisions that must be made. For a beginning vegetable farmer, there are a raft of practical – but critical – logistical decisions to make, from what size plot to start with, to how best to lay out the production area, to planting and management strategies, and more.

Julia Slocum had to grapple with these questions when she started Lacewing Acres, the certified organic vegetable farm she operates north of Ames. She is now in her fourth season managing her own farm, and invites farmers and the public to learn from her experience at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day she is hosting on Sunday, Aug. 7, from 2 to 5 p.m., near Ames. Lacewing Acres is located at 3715 W 190th St., about 6 miles north of Ames on the grounds of Alluvial Brewing Company, just north of the brewery building.

The event – “Field Planning for a Beginning Vegetable Farm” – is free to attend and will include a potluck after the program. Guests are asked to bring a dish to share and their own table service. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, or (515) 232-5661, by Thursday, Aug. 4. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union.

Attendees will learn about different possibilities for setting up a vegetable farm spatially, including issues that need to be considered and the advantages and disadvantages of different configurations. Julia will discuss a range of practical issues, such as bed length, width and height; plot size and rotation; relay cropping and plant groupings; tillage and weeding strategies; cover crops; use of mulches and covers; and irrigation and equipment considerations. In addition, Gary Guthrie, who operates Growing Harmony Farm near Nevada, will take part in the presentation, offering insights from an experienced farmer’s perspective.

“I hope people will get a better sense of what they need to do to get going with a small vegetable operation, and walk away with some ideas on how to do it without huge financial inputs,” Julia says.

Lacewing Acres now encompasses 3 acres. Julia manages the farm with the help of a small group of part-time employees and volunteers. After three years of selling at the Ames Main Street Farmers Market, she now sells primarily through an expanding 60-member CSA, in addition to some restaurant and wholesale outlets.

Directions from U.S. 69: Head west on 190th Street and go 2.5 miles; the farm will be on the right side of the road. Park in the brewery parking lot and walk behind the brewery building.

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


Julia Slocum | Lacewing Acres | (515) 231-0957 | |

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