SOLON– Starting out in farming unquestionably takes a lot of work, dedication and planning– but success does not solely depend on having a family farming background, inherited land or even a degree in agriculture.
That’s the message Kate Edwards, a beginning farmer now entering her second year operating Wild Woods Farm, hopes to share with attendees at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day she is hosting, Saturday, Sept. 8, from 1 until 4 p.m., near Solon. The event is sponsored by the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District, and is free to attend.
The field day, “A New Farmer’s Story: From Production to Policy,” will highlight Kate’s story of starting farming from scratch, and finding the people and resources needed to help make her farming dream a reality. Kate will discuss how she has gotten involved in local foods policy as a member of the recently established Johnson County Food Policy Council. The field day will also provide a chance for other beginning farmers to meet each other and network.
Featured topics will include discussion of beginning farmers, community supported agriculture, local food systems and food policy councils. Members of the Johnson County Food Policy Council will also be on hand to answer questions about the council, its work and goals.
“I want to help people interested in farming realize that it is possible to get into farming,” says Kate, adding that she grew up a generation removed from the farm. “It also takes a lot of organization and hard work, and it’s not just something to take lightly– but farming often seems like it’s impossible to get into because you have to be handed a farm.”
“I wanted to farm since I was eight years old– but I never thought I was smart enough to farm,” she says. “It had never occurred to me that, as a woman, I could be a farmer. So I hope to get across that it’s a twofold thing: farming is a lot of hard work, but don’t give up dreaming about it.”
Kate grows vegetables on her two-acre Wild Woods Farm, which she sells directly through community supported agriculture subscriptions as well as wholesale produce marketing.
Directions: Wild Woods Farm is located at 2501 Sugar Bottom Rd NE, about eight miles southwest of Solon. To reach the farm from Interstate 80 at Iowa City, take state Highway 1 north and drive 4 four miles from I-80 to Newport Road, then turn left and go one mile to a white church on the right. Turn right on Sugar Bottom Road, go two miles and turn left on 245th Street. Go one-half mile to the eight-foot fence surrounding Edwards’ field on the left. A round stone barn and stone driveway markers are hard to miss.
Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting more than 40 field days around Iowa in 2012. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. For the entire field day schedule, visit www.practicalfarmers.org  or call the PFI office at 515-232-5661 to request a 2012 Field Day Guide.
Practical Farmers of Iowa 2012 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University; the National Center for Appropriate Technology; Seed Savers Exchange; Blue River Hybrids; ISU Extension and Outreach; American Natural Soy; Albert Lea Seed; Gateway Market; the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service; FHR Farms; USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa Organic Association; OPINS Co-op; Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); Calcium Products Incorporated; Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA); High Mowing Seeds; CROPP Cooperative of Organic Valley / Organic Prairie Family of Farms; Plantra; the Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU; and the Iowa Beef Center.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more.
For additional information, call 515-232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org .