With interest growing for Iowa fruit and vegetable production, the number of Practical Farmers members who raise these crops is increasing, too. These farmers are interested in learning from each other to create profitable, diverse farms. Current priorities for horticulture farmers include business and enterprise development, improving production, pricing and marketing, community supported agriculture and season extension. In addition, these farmers have identified pesticide drift and pollinator health as significant issues they would like Practical Farmers to address.

Join our staff as habitat and farm transfer coordinator

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is seeking an outgoing and driven professional to join our staff as habitat and farm transfer coordinator. For over 30 years, PFI has equipped farmers to build resilient farms and communities through farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing, on-farm research and strategic partnerships.

This new, full-time position will work with PFI staff, farmers, landowner, and external partners to coordinate and execute farmer-led events and research related to on-farm prairie, edge-of-field conservation practices and habitat management. This person will create a network of farmer- and landowner leaders in on-farm prairie and habitat, including a conservation and habitat committee. This person will also build networks with farmland owners, and organize regional events to strengthen PFI’s farm transfer program.

Read more about the position here.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)


Looking for a CSA near you? Look here!
Most up-to-date list of PFI-Member CSAs

CSA Retention Study
Low retention rates for a farm’s CSA is concerning for the farmer, but attrition happens for a variety of reasons. Three PFI member CSA farms asked Practical Farmers to conduct a third-party survey of non-renewing members to investigate why they haven’t returned.
Full Report
Raw Survey Results
Survey Comments

CSA Mini-School and Workshop Retreats

Every few years Practical Farmers’ member farms with CSAs (in interested in starting one) are invited to the CSA Workshop. Read about the 2016 and 2013 events, below.
2016 CSA Workshop
2013 Mini-School Summary

Annual Conference Sessions

Producing an Abundance for Your CSA Laura Krouse – 2012 presentation

Farm Financials, Business Planning and Management

Practical Farmers members are committed to sharing information, practices and plans with other farmers to help create more financially sustainable fruit and vegetable farms in Iowa.

Whole Farm Financial Project

PFI farmers are providing a rare snapshot of yearly farm financials, including profit-loss and balance sheets, to better inform beginning farmers. The 2013 and 2014 reports are below; the 4 year report  (2013-2016) is in progress

2013 Whole Farm Financial Report

2014 Whole Farm Financial Report

Annual Conference Sessions

2015 Vegetable Farm Business Plan (part of Real Life Business Plan Vetting) – Jordan Scheibel – 2015 presentation
Eight Years of Vegetable Production Budgets – Laura Frerichs – 2015
Profitability through Simple Recordkeeping and Season Extension – Paul and Sandy Arnold – 2013 presentation

Pesticide Drift

Pesticide Drift

Practical Farmers’ members identify pesticide drift as a critical issue facing horticulture farmers. PFI’s work on pesticide drift intends to expand the visibility of and conversation surrounding pesticide drift in Iowa while serving as an information hub for farmers.

Click here to view pesticide drift resources.

Production and Sales


Scaling Up Report
Based on buyer and grower feedback, this report outlines strategies to overcome barriers to maintaining and growing a wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.

Farmers Market Goal Workbook
This workbook corresponds to the article “Set goals to improve your farmers market sales” in the Spring 2012 edition of the Practical Farmer.

Yield Data Collection
In 2013, Practical Farmers of Iowa started a yield data collection project to: 1. Create Iowa-specific production histories; 2. Provide data to lenders for risk analysis; 3. Provide data to public and private insurance agencies to improve fruit and vegetable insurance options.

Annual Conference Sessions

Vegetable Pricing Philosophy – Kay Jensen – 2015 presentation
Healthy Soil for Healthy Crops – Ajay Nair – 2015 presentation
Q&A audio
Composting Done Right – Elaine Ingham – 2013 presentation
Growing High Quality Tomatoes – Glen Elsbernd – 2013 presentation
Profitability and the Good Life with Produce – Paul and Sandy Arnold – 2013
Profitable Nut and Fruit Tree Crops – Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice – 2012 audio

Season Extension

Coolers and Storage

Click here to see more about coolers and Coolbots on the Energy page.

Annual Conference Sessions

Walk-in Cooler Construction and Efficiency – Tony Thompson – 2015

High Tunnels and Greenhouse

Annual Conference Sessions

Blue Gate Farm High Tunnel Production – Jill Beebout – 2016 presentation
Increase Sales through Season Extension – Mike Bollinger – 2012



High Tunnel Build Workshops

Every few years Practical Farmers of Iowa teams up with a farmer and a high tunnel expert to run a high tunnel build workshop, where attendees get hands-on experience building a high tunnel from squaring the site to hanging to doors. The most recent build workshop was in September 2016, hosted by Sara Hanson and Bob Pearson, and led by Adam Montri.
Prairie Sky Farm High Tunnel Build
Summary and Videos

Contact Information

For more information about on-farm horticulture research or horticulture programming, contact Liz Kolbe at liz@practicalfarmers.org.