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October 21, 2021

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host the 2021 Iowa High Tunnel Short Course on Nov. 8 in the Garden Room at Reiman Gardens, located at 1407 S. University Blvd. in Ames. This event is designed to highlight production and management of high tunnel crops along with information on economics and marketing aspects of high tunnel crop production. An update on the status of high tunnel research across the Midwest will be provided.

October 21, 2021

Food processors in Iowa are essential not only to increasing the quantity and diversity of food in their areas, but also in creating employment opportunities for members of their communities. However, to be successful, they must pay attention to food safety, sanitation and preparation. A new online training program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will help Iowa’s food processors meet these goals.

October 20, 2021

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is offering Choose Iowa Marketing and Promotion grants for Iowa producers. The grant program matches up to $25,000 per project to help farmers, businesses and non-profits increase or diversify their agricultural product offerings.

October 04, 2021

Farmers and ranchers in Iowa can apply for special grants being offered by the North Central Region of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. The NCR-SARE will host a Farmer Rancher Grant Program webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 4-5:30 p.m. CDT. This webinar will help guide participants through submitting a grant proposal to NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Join Joan Benjamin, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program coordinator, to learn how to write a strong proposal and project budget and where to get help. NCR-SARE will record the webinar and make it available on this webpage. 

September 20, 2021

As fall approaches, harvest season means that small farms will begin producing and selling their home-prepared foods. This part of the U.S. food supply chain is known as the cottage food industry and cottage food producers are subject to certain regulations. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers online training in food safety, food preparation and Iowa regulations designed specifically for cottage food producers.

September 07, 2021

The pandemic provided opportunity for specialty producers in Iowa to expand production and sales. However, managing risk for specialty production is critical to capitalizing on new market opportunities. The Small Farms division of Farm, Food and Enterprise Development of Iowa Sate University Extension sponsored a series of webinars for specialty crop producers in January, February and March 2021. They featured new tools and resources on how to manage risk.

2021 Iowa State Fair Big Pumpkin Contest Winners
August 25, 2021

A super-sized pumpkin tipping the scale at 915 pounds won first place in the 2021 Iowa State Fair Big Pumpkin Contest, judged Friday, Aug. 13. The growers, Don Young and his son-in-law Tommy Rhodes, of Des Moines, received a $1,850 cash award.

August 20, 2021

It’s not really a coincidence that the Produce for Better Health Foundation recently named September as National Fruits and Veggies month in the United States. Summer is filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, from watermelon to melons, tomatoes to greens, and many more. It’s the season to indulge in foods that are tasty and good for you, too.

August 12, 2021

Multiple days of excessive heat can be hard on vegetable crops, especially ones known to be cool-season. Brassicas, lettuce, carrots and spinach are particularly vulnerable to bitterness, wilting, bolting, deformities and coloring that affect the quality of the produce. Warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers are also at risk of poor flowering and pollination, poor nutrient availability, and overall plant stress in the heat which leads to poor growth, yield, and fruit quality issues in the future. While we cannot control the weather there are a few strategies growers can implement to help vegetable crops survive during these long dry summer days.

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August 09, 2021

Food businesses interested in expanding the processing and retail side of their operation have a new resource published by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The “Scaling Up Specialty Crop Processing Toolkit” provides an overview and case study of the different criteria for food businesses interested in processing specialty crops through small scale value-added processing – such as product development, commercial kitchens, increasing sales and more.

Mom and baby cow
July 29, 2021

Livestock farmers know that reducing the spread of disease and pests among their animals maximizes profitability. Biosecurity includes understanding routes of transmission and taking steps to manage risk at the whole-farm level.

Fruit & Vegetable Week Image
July 29, 2021

Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Gov. Kim Reynolds recognized the value of this segment of agriculture by designating July 26-30, 2021, as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week.

September 22, 2020

Publications and webinars to enhance your agritourism business. 

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week Graphic
June 11, 2020

Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Recognizing the value of this segment of agriculture, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has designated June 22-26, 2020, as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week.

May 27, 2020

The most recent “Back to Business Iowa” podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach features Cherie Edilson, co-founder and CEO of Shop Where I Live. This Marion, Iowa based company works with chambers of commerce and economic development groups statewide to create online “storefronts” where all of the community’s businesses can sell their products in one spot. This model is surging in popularity with COVID-19 pandemic-related closures and social distancing requirements.

May 19, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses across the state are trying new and innovative strategies to remain open and continue to serve Iowans. Farms and food businesses are also stepping up to meet the demand for local food products. Many farmers markets are moving to online sales and virtual options to continue to support customers and vendors in this trying time.

May 01, 2020

The horticulture team at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is debuting a new video series with detailed information on vegetable production and management in Iowa. Videos can be viewed by visiting the ISU Extension and Outreach Integrated Pest Management YouTube channel.

May 01, 2020

Local foods producers and consumers who rely on Iowa’s farmers markets for food are able to conduct business as of April 24, according to a decision by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency allows farmers markets to operate, but only to sell food and farm products.

May 01, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses from large to small, and there are many questions surrounding what business owners and entrepreneurs should do as the state prepares to re-open. To help answer some of these questions, and to help Iowans understand the many resources available, the Community and Economic Development program and the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are providing a series of podcasts and webinars, in partnership with the Iowa Small Business Development Centers.

Sweet corn at farmers market.
April 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a far-reaching impact within the food supply and value chain system, affecting multiple sectors of the food economy. In an effort to help explain the many issues and options, the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is sharing timely resources and answers online.

April 15, 2020

Direct-market farmers face closures of farmers markets, restaurants, and other in-person sales outlets this spring due to COVID-19. What options can replace these important markets? I recently attended a webinar sponsored by the non-profit Oregon Tilth called “Online Sales Platforms for Farmers” (view the recording). Representatives of five platforms gave overviews of their products.

All of these online platforms operate in similar way. Farmers set up an online “store” with their products and prices listed. Shoppers visit the website, select products, fill their “cart,” and check out. The platforms are designed to make it easy for customers to access healthy, locally grown food. And they want to give farmers tools to manage inventory, customer communications, sales, and delivery options.

Original photo: Ajay Nair answering questions.
April 15, 2020

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are many, but one thing that hasn’t changed for Iowa’s small farmers is the need for timely, accurate information. One way Iowans can stay informed is by listening to the Small Farm Sustainability Podcasts, a project led by Christa Hartsook, the small farms program coordinator with Farm, Food and Enterprise Development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

April 15, 2020

Now is the time to get creative. Travel experts predict a pent-up demand to “hit the road” as soon as people are able to get out. Are you ready? Here are ten inexpensive ideas your business and community can use right now to help capture that eager market, avoid a tourism industry wipeout, and build long-term success.

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.

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.

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