Erica Andorf joined Practical Farmers of Iowa in 2013 as Office Manager. Erica lived on a 1000 acre farm for fourteen years and then moved to an acreage in Northeast Iowa. Her father taught her gardening, the importance of living off the land and sustainable agriculture.
In 2009, Erica moved from Waterloo to Ames after her house had tremendous flood damage. She has twenty years office and management experience which includes non-profit. Erica volunteers at the Ames High School for the wrestling and football programs.
Erica has two children, Blayke and Marcus. She enjoys spending time at Marcus' sporting events (a two- time State Wrestling Champion and upcoming ISU student-athlete), loving her grandchildren Quincy and Iylah, making anything grow, hiking in the mountains, working out at the gym and enjoying life.
Member since 2009
Tim Kelley and his sister together own about 800 acres of farmland near Elmo, Missouri, in the northwest part of the state. Of that, 450 acres are in row crops; the rest is either timber, restored prairie, buffers and cool-season grass pasture.
Since 2015, Tim has been working closely with his tenant, Nick Ohnmacht, to manage the row cropped acres with cash crops, cover crops and contract grazing with cattle – “and it could be all those simultaneously,” Tim says. “Anything that’s in cover crops is also grazeable. The idea is to keep a live crop in the ground 365 days a year.”
Before Tim started working with Nick to manage and improve his row crop land, Tim raised grass-fed cattle and sheep at another farm he owned. He used high-density grazing to improve the organic matter on that land to 7 percent.
“That’s not a big deal for Iowa,” Tim says. “But it’s pre-settlement levels for northwest Missouri or southwest Iowa – 6 to 8 percent is what they think the prairie had.” Nick rented pasture on that farm, but Tim explains that, since his pasture land and row crop farms were not contiguous, he didn’t think he could carefully manage both. So he sold that farm to focus on improving the row crop land.
Tim says he is still interested in livestock, however, and may get some sheep to raise grass-fed lamb, as well as cattle. “Nature hates a vacuum, but also abhors a monoculture,” he says. “That’s why we like multi-species in our pasture and multi-species in our pasture – both above and below ground.”
Tim recently attended Bruce Carney’s Sept. 28 field day on “Using Ultrasound as a Tool in Grass-Finishing Cattle,” and says hearing Bruce openly share the things he did wrong was extremely helpful. He made the 180-mile drive, in part, because he “appreciates how Bruce and PFI members invite us to their homes and tell us their mistakes as well as their successes – it helps us all.”
Meet our Keynote Speaker:
Common Characteristics of Successful Farmers
by John Kempf, Farmer and Founder of Advancing Eco-Agriculture
What is a successful farm?
This answer varies depending on whom you ask. Farming success can be defined as profit, ecological diversity, supporting another generation on the farm, providing healthy food, wildlife habitat – the list is long, and most farmers define success through multiple objectives. Keynote speaker John Kempf has spent a decade working with innovative farmers across the country. John is known for helping farmers think differently to solve challenges they are experiencing on their farms. In this presentation, John will discuss the common characteristics in farming operations he views as extraordinarily successful. John will discuss how you can incorporate these same principles into your decision-making and problem-solving. John Kempf grew up farming, and continues to farm in his Amish community near Middlefield, Ohio. John is an internationally recognized lecturer who speaks widely on the topics of regenerative agriculture and inherent disease resistance mechanisms that plants can develop with proper nutritional management. A top expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming, John founded Advancing Eco-Agriculture in 2006 to help fellow farmers by providing education, tools and strategies that have a global effect on our food supply.
Read more about John in this Modern Farmer article:
Learn more about the 2016 Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference.
Matt and Kelli Miller
Sugar Creek Farm
Osage, Iowa – Mitchell County
Members since 2004
Main enterprises: pasture-grazed beef, heritage pork, pasture-raised broiler chickens
The Millers own and operate Sugar Creek Farm as well as work off-farm jobs. Matt works for Osage Utilities and Kelli is a software developer.
What motivated you to join or renew membership in Practical Farmers of Iowa? Continue reading
Cumming, Iowa – Madison County
Member since 1990
What motivated you to join or renew membership in Practical Farmers of Iowa?
My first experience with PFI was when I attended a field day at Dick Thompson’s farm. I was surprised to see so many like-minded people already forming an organization that was off and running. It was like-minded and bent towards sustainable farming as opposed to conventional AG. I didn’t find a whole lot else out there like it. Certified Organic was going but they didn’t offer the on-farm research and some of the camaraderie that PFI was offering.
What is your connection to agriculture?
I grew up on this farm. It’s a Heritage farm. This farm was bought by John and Mary McLaughlin in May of 1823. I’m the 5th generation on this farm. I got away from here out of high school and came back to it. I went travelling for a few years. I traveled to Colorado and stayed there for a while. I hitchhiked around the country, went up to Canada and later spent some time in Central America. PFI is one of the things that inspired me to come back to farming. It was something other than conventional ag which didn’t strike me as something I wanted to do. But seeing people do different things inspired me to come back.
Besides farming, what are your interests, passions or hobbies? Continue reading
Excellent financial information was shared during the last Practical Farmers’ Farminar, January 14th, from Erin Wilson and Al Brudelie.
Listen to the archived Farminar
Al shared some solid financials about organic crop rotation and worksheets to help farmers get started.
View the pdf
Also check out this 2012 report on Organic Farm Performance in Minnesota. Farmers beginning the transition to low input systems or completing the full transition to organic might find these resources useful.