Working with the Amish and Mennonite Community in Howard and Mitchell Counties

Patrick O'Malley, commercial horticulture field specialist

Situation

Producers of fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals in Howard and Mitchell County have a need for technical information about insects, diseases, and weed control to improve their crop production. Contact with members of the Cedar Valley Produce market and Mennonite and Amish community leaders enabled me to obtain information about their needs and what possible assistance Iowa State University Extension could provide.

Response

In response to the identified need, I contacted ISU Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist, Patrick O’Malley about the possibility of setting up a field day or training for these producers. While working with Patrick and the Mennonite leadership, we decided the most effective way to provide assistance was to schedule a combined workshop and field day. On July 8, 2003 Patrick and I attended the Cedar Valley Produce market and met with a group of 40 Mennonite and Amish produce farmers and family members. Patrick spent the next two hours answering questions and diagnosing plant problems. The Leaders arranged for the group to visited two Mennonite farms in Howard County. Patrick conducted a workshop in the field at each location. The farmers presented us with a variety of crops and requested advice on problems and concerns related to growing fruits and vegetables in Iowa.

Impact

Forty producers and family members attended the workshop and field day. Producers stated that there was a lot of good information presented and that it was worth their time. In addition, producers also mentioned that the presenter “was the most knowledgeable person that they have met so far regarding produce here in Iowa.”

The leader stated and the group agreed that they hoped that Extension would be willing to meet with the growers in the winter for an educational meeting and have another field day next spring. They felt that this was very helpful and would like to continue to work together. While many of the growers have a lot of experience growing vegetables in PA, the soil and climate is different here in Iowa. The knowledge gained by the growers is expected to help the produce auction to exceed $500,000 in sales in 2004.

 

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu