Friday, August 22, 2014

GFF Field Day

On August 17 of this year, we hosted a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day that was sponsored by MOSES.

The press release announcing this field day is at this location
Also - the questions and topics of the field day got me thinking that some more detail on some things might be appreciated.  so, the following blog posts (so far) can be attributed to the field day.  We hope they are of use to others:

The field day was attended by 60 people, the food was excellent and the attendees were a pleasure to have visiting the farm.  There were many great questions, some decent answers and wonderful conversations.  All in all, we were honored to be able to hold this field day and have the opportunity to share what we do with other interested persons.  Hopefully, attendees were able to learn from us - either by seeing what we do that fits their needs or seeing how we fail so they can avoid those same problems.

We thought we would share some photos that were taken by the PFI staff.  But, before we get to that - a big thanks to Tomoko, Tamsyn and Chris for all of their help!   PFI staffers are the best and are one of the reasons we're happy to keep doing things to support PFI.

Our youngest attendee - 3 weeks of age
We had attendees of all ages at this event, but the youngest person came along for the ride with Glen and Beth Elsbernd.  It turns out, Anthony didn't really have many questions.  But, believe me... he will. 

You want me to talk or Tammy?
The program started at about 3:20 when it looked like most who intended to attend had arrived.  There was some great creative parking going on.  Well done people!  The first stop after the normal housekeeping things that occur at these events was the ducks.  Rob made sure to ask if people wanted to hear from the knowledgeable person regarding the ducks or the one who just feeds the Appleyard ducks greens.  They opted for knowledge (and beauty), so Tammy presented on that topic.
Rob tells everyone which direction East is.
Once we were done with the ducks, Rob decided to be out standing in his field.  Everyone else stayed on the path ways.  Thank you everyone.  It made me feel special that I could trod around in the fields.  Since our topic areas had to do with intercropping, planning and research the field day ran the gamut.  We tried to respond most to questions and I feel that we touched on each topic.  The biggest difficulty had to be trying to do each thing justice without wearing the audience out.

So, if you were an attendee and wondered if there is more.  There is.  There is always more.  But, we covered a little bit of each thing in hopes that you could get some nuggets that were useful to you.

A Reds cap for Rob (super cool) and an A's cap for Rob's brother!
I was greatly honored to have another Reds cap at the field day!  What a great cap.  That young man is going to go far!  Even better, his brother wore an A's cap.  It just so happens that this is my brother's favorite team.  If they only knew.
I think there's something on my shoe.
The pictures we were able to view of the field day included an inordinate number of Rob.  I suppose the reason for this is that he was speaking.  But, if you know Rob, you realize he'd rather be on the picture taking side of the camera.  And, you probably also know he isn't a person who takes pictures of people.  Nothing like getting a new perspective of life on the farm.

We've always known this, but we never had it so well illustrated.  Rob feels it necessary to gesture when he talks.  We just thought you should know.

That actually looks comfortable.  Maybe I should sit, since there is something on my shoe?
The best part of the field day?  The great people with the great questions.  We wish we had more time to just converse with more of you!

James says, "Hey, did you know you had something on your shoe?"
James Frantzen of Riverside Feeds and Mike Gallagher of Sunshine Paper Company were both in attendance as well.  James provides the feed for our poultry and Sunshine Paper provides us with the Weedguard Plus paper mulch we use in our SARE research at the farm.  It was good to be able to point interested individuals there way when we got questions about what we fed our birds or where we got the paper mulch.

These people are smiling because they know smoked turkey is on the menu
The field day had some serious content, but we still managed to keep it light-hearted and laid back.  We figured most people there had endured a long week as we had, so providing an event that allowed all of our blood pressures to go back down would be a good thing.

Ending the event with a GFF smoked turkey prepared by Chef Chris Meyers of the Savory Spoon in Frederika (along with his home made buns) was an excellent choice.  The meal was supplemented by some GFF Bunte Forellenschus lettuce and all kinds of excellent items brought as part of the potluck. 

Oh...what a scary bunch that is!
Kieran, our Labor For Learning intern and Erik, one of our summer farm helpers, were able to attend the field day as well.  We think it provided them with more insight about why we do some of the things we do in the way we do it.  Sometimes explanations cannot be so thorough during a work day.  And, often the explanations are confined to what is going on at the time.  This gave a macro view that they both deserved to have.  So, we're glad they were able to be there.

Thank you for attending the field day.  Now... adore me.
And, apparently, the farm cats were on the list of must see items for the PFI staff.  Of course, being cats, they all made sure they couldn't be troubled during the field day.  Cubby did eventually show up so Tamsyn, Chris and Tomoko could see her.  Being the might huntress she is, she preened and posed.  Who wouldn't be proud to be Cubby?

Mrranda showed up almost immediately after the last car left the farm.  Sandman followed five minutes later.  They're response was - "What?  Was something going on here?  I didn't know."

Now that's encouraging!
People were great about separating trash, dishes, recycling, etc.  And, many people brought their own table service, reducing our efforts at cleanup dramatically.  Bless you all!

Of course, there were still numerous things to do to clean up after the event, but it wasn't nearly the onerous task it could have been.  Tammy did a great job organizing this part of the field day and those who came were helpful and positive guests.  Thank you to all of you.

And, of course, we should also thank people who came in days prior to help us prepare the farm for this field day.  Ron Lenth brought chairs from the extension office for us to use (thank you Ron!).  The Figura clan, Jo Foster, Erin and Bailey Bartlett and Kieran Cullen all showed up for some volunteer time on Saturday.  We managed to clean up the tomato field a bit, knock down weeds behind the cold frame area and slap a little more paint on the granary.  Nancy Hasenwinkel continues to help with maintaining the flower beds.  It's been pleasant to look at the flowers and not be disappointed in the state they are in.  Jeff Sage and Lyndsay Schmidt, two growers in Bremer County, joined us on Wednesday and helped us clean up some of our fields as well.  And, we would be remiss if we neglected to point out that Erik, Kieran and Denis - our crew this season, have all done a great deal to make the farm look as good as it could for this event.

Well done all! 

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