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.

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.


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