News

December 02, 2019

The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally when most Christmas tree buying occurs. Whether you cut your own tree or buy a pre-cut tree there are several things to consider before buying and when selecting a fresh tree. Horticulture specialists with Iowa State University offer tips to make the most of your fresh tree.

Tomatoes
December 02, 2019

Produce growers may not grow the same quantity of product as farmers who plant conventional crops, but tracking the numbers is just as important, if not more so. Enterprise budgets are available for more than a dozen fruits and vegetables commonly grown in Iowa, and producers can update them with their own numbers and unique situation.

December 02, 2019

Midwesterners wanting to add edible diversity to their woodlands or to their backyards may want to consider the benefits of growing Chinese chestnut trees. Unlike American chestnuts, which were largely decimated by a fungal canker blight in the last century, the Chinese species is blight resistant and has proven to be weather resistant most years.

Still Water Fiber Farm
August 13, 2019

Previous issues of the Visit Iowa Farms newsletter highlighted the first three steps a business must take to provide excellent service to its customers. The final steps are: step four, Make it SATISFYING, and step five, Make it MEMORABLE.

Vegetables at Farmers Market
August 13, 2019

How can a vegetable farmer know which crops are profitable enough to keep growing? Can marketing costs be analyzed by sales channel? They can with the right enterprise budgets. Learn more in this article. 

Ipad in field
August 13, 2019

Whether your agritourism destination includes livestock, food, seasonal activities, or farm stays, a successful marketing plan will expand your customer base and ultimately lead to additional revenue. This article will give you 5 steps to help improve your farm marketing.

July 05, 2019

The fruit and vegetable research taking place at Iowa State University’s Horticulture Research Station will be on full display for the Fruit and Vegetable Field Day Aug. 5. The annual event will feature various research and demonstration projects tailored toward commercial growers, extension personnel, nonprofit organizations and Master Gardeners. Specific projects include high tunnels, organic vegetable production, pepper and sweet potato production, pest management in cucurbit crops, hops, peaches and beneficial insects such as bees, wasps and pollinators.

Bolin Family Photo
June 24, 2019

Although the title has changed, the farmer still comes first for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program. The new title is the result of a merger of the Value Added Agriculture and Local Foods teams, but their mission and goals haven’t changed. This is also true for the programs they offer, such as the Small Farms Team, which works to improve profitability and efficiency of growers across the state.

June 12, 2019

Farmers and landowners who open their property to the public face some unique risks and responsibilities.To help ensure their operation is following best practices, a group of agritourism experts with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has put together six checklists that cover the many types of liability an owner may face.

Tractor at Colony Pumpkin Patch
May 13, 2019

Google’s annual Economic Impact Report features one business from 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. In their 2018 report, released today, the featured Iowa business is North Liberty's Colony Pumpkin Patch.

Farm signage
May 13, 2019

Whether you operate a family farm or an agritourism destination, farm signage and labels are critical to your operation. Signage is designed to keep your family, farm workers, and visitors safe and informed. If your agritourism destination contains livestock, playground equipment, machinery or food sales, signs are a necessity.

Strawberry plants
May 13, 2019

Weeds compete with small fruit plants for the elements needed to grow and produce fruit, which means gardeners need to be diligent about weed control. Horticulturists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach provide weed control options for gardeners with strawberries, raspberries and vineyards. 

Flooded vegetable field
May 13, 2019

With respect to vegetable crops, recent flooding in western Iowa has created a tough situation for growers. Given the time of the year of this catastrophic event, there were no vegetable crops standing in the field, however, water/runoff from surface waters such as rivers, lakes, or steams could have overflowed and run into fields. This water most likely could contain chemical and biological contaminants that may be harmful to the health of humans and animals.

dairy cow
April 30, 2019

Would you sleep with cows? Yes?  No? Maybe, if you had a comfy bed and a private bathroom?  Sounds like New Day Dairy Bed & Breakfast located north-west of Waverly, Iowa, near Clarksville, scheduled to open this summer
Iowa's First Authentic “Farm Stay” Bed & Breakfast To Open on Central Iowa Dairy Farm
 

Customers in a garden
February 13, 2019

In prior newsletter issues, we highlighted the first two steps a business must do to provide excellent service to its customers. Those steps are “Make it Your Own” and “Make it Personal”.  

Step 3 is “Make it EFFICIENT”.

December 21, 2018

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Visit Iowa Farms program will hold an Agritourism Destination Safety and Health Best Practices workshop Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the ISU Extension and Outreach Black Hawk County office in Waterloo.

November 14, 2018

The 2018 season has ended and I wanted to share a few frequently asked questions, problems, concerns, and trends that I am seeing.  Rather than waiting until next year to address these issues, it seems easier to do so while the year is still fresh in our minds. 

November 14, 2018

Our tree leaves are coming down, but don’t throw them away - put them to work for you.  We’ve talked about creating a traditional compost pile in the past, but if you only have a small amount of yard waste consider bag composting.

(Rule of Thirds) iStock photo
November 14, 2018

When using social media to advertise your business and products, there is power in pictures. Customers cannot touch or feel what you have to offer. Words and photos are the only way to promote your agritourism destination and persuade people to visit your farm and buy your products.

Men shaking hands
August 13, 2018

In our last newsletter, we introduced a series of articles about our customer service workshops, and the five steps a business must do to provide excellent service to its customers. In the May, 2018 newsletter, we highlighted the first step of excellent customer service as “Make it Your Own”. Define what you want your customers to say about you, and strategically create your business’s unique culture in a way that makes you stand out from your competition.

Produce Storage
August 13, 2018

You have probably heard the old proverb, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” Although the meaning of the proverb is directed at things besides apples, it is based on a true fact for many fruits and vegetables. The storage location and temperature, quality of the product and what they are store with makes a big difference in their storage life. This is due primarily to a plant hormone ethylene, sometimes referred to as the “ripening hormone.” It is a colorless, ordorless gas that is naturally produced by plants. It functions as a plant growth regulator and triggers specific events, such as ripening. As the fruit ripens, ethylene causes cells to degrade, fruit to turn softer and sweeter, leaves to drop on plants, and seeds or buds to sprout.

Blog text photo
August 13, 2018

What is Blogging? Blogging is a personal web log that was initially used to share feelings, thoughts and ultimately opinions. Today, it has grown into a unique platform that many businesses and corporations utilize as a marketing tactic to increase visibility and growth. As blogging has become more popular, several businesses are integrating both their websites and blogs into one web presence; however blogs serve as an exclusive marketing channel that set them apart from a traditional website. Provided are just three benefits and tips to starting or improving your own business blog.

Customers at Agritourism Destination
May 08, 2018

How can you add value to your business so customers will select you over others? What differentiates you from your competitors? The first step for any business is to make it YOUR OWN. Begin by defining your business’s unique customer service culture. Many businesses skip this step – but it is the most important! Everything you do for your customers should result from the business culture you strategically decide to create. This is not your mission statement, nor your marketing plan; but it influences both of those. Your customer service culture is the impression you want in a customer’s mind the instant they hear your business name. 

Agritourism Destination
May 08, 2018

Now that we have entered Spring, being outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather is the top priority on our list. Families have begun to gather ideas on how to spend their spring and summer weekends. As an agritourism destination owner or operator, have you thought about how you will promote your destination so yours makes the list of potential visitors?

An attractive advertisement or an inviting social media post are sure to catch the attention of visitors. The more promotion and information you have readily available for interested visitors, the more likely they are to add your destination to their go-to list! To help you get started on the right foot when it comes to promoting your farm, we have compiled ideas about what you can do to get the word out about your agritourism destination.

Donate Excess Produce Picture
May 08, 2018

Most gardeners anxiously await planting season and often get over zealous. Either the garden ends up larger than planned or more tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini are planted than are actually needed. It is similar to going to the grocery store when you are hungry – you end up with more than you intended. Another situation may arise that the crops over performed, also leaving gardeners with a surplus. Although some of the excess may be shared with neighbors, friends and family, much goes to waste. According to AmpleHarvest.org, the amount of garden produce that goes unused in the United States could feed 28 million people. Make this year one that you intentionally plant extra and/or plan to give your surplus to help feed the hungry in your community.

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