Central Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Production Field Days Cover Variety of Topics



AMES, Iowa—Selling produce at farmers markets, flower production, tomato grafting and pumpkin production are topics that will be covered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and central Iowa farmers during fields days this summer. The workshops are free and open to all interested growers, according to ISU Extension and Outreach horticulturist Joe Hannan.

Sequence Planting Field Day at Red Granite Farm

June 23, 6 – 8 p.m.

Red Granite Farm, managed by Steve and Nicole Jonas, is a five acre farm in Boone County.  Steve and Nicole grow a variety of vegetables and perennial plants for sale at farmers markets.  They started selling at farmers markets in 2007.  By 2011, Nicole quit her job to farm full time.

Selling at farmers markets requires careful planning to maintain a constant supply of produce each week.  Steve and Nicole use a combination of planting dates, varieties, and high tunnels to spread out their harvest.  At the field day, Steve and Nicole will discuss how they develop their plan, implement it, and how they stay flexible to deal with inconsistent spring weather.

Directions to Red Granite farm
The farm is located just west of Story City on E-18.  From highway 17, go East 1 mile.  The farm is on the North side of the road.  The address is 2013 130th St., Boone IA 50036.

Pumpkin Production Field Day at Geisler Farms

July 8, 6 – 8 p.m.

Geisler Farms, managed by Darrell and Malinda Geisler, is a third-generation family business that raises corn and soybeans near Ankeny.  In 2005, they launched Growing Family Fun, an agritourism business that includes ten acres of pumpkins, corn maze and other farm focused family activities.

The Geisler’s will discuss how they use a three-year crop rotation and rye grain cover crop to manage weeds in their pumpkins.  They will discuss cover crop establishment, terminating the cover crop, planting with a custom built one row air planter, insect and disease control, and harvest.  The Geislers will have all of their equipment available to view.

Directions to Geisler Farm from Des Moines and Ames
Geisler Farms is located at 5251 NE 94th Ave., Bondurant, Iowa.  From I-35, take Exit #92 (First Street). Turn east. Travel 3.5 miles. The farm is on the south side of the road.

Greenhouse flowers and tomato grafting field day at Howell’s Pumpkin Patch

July 14, 6 – 8 pm.

Howell’s Pumpkin Patch and Dried Florals is a sixth generation family farm currently managed by Fred and Cindy Howell and their children.  Located south of Des Moines in Cumming, the farm covers a little over 800 acres.  Originally a diversified livestock and crops farm, Fred began raising flowers for dried florals in 1985. Howell’s farm now has five acres and a greenhouse for flower production and has expanded into vegetable, strawberries, pumpkins, corn maze and agri-tainment.

Fred will discuss flower production in his new gothic style greenhouse from planting, to harvesting, to drying in the upper floor of the old barn. Dr. Ajay Nair, Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, will discuss the advantages and challenges of tomato grafting in a demonstration plot in Fred’s greenhouse.  The plot includes both grafted and non-grafted indeterminate and determinate tomatoes for comparisons.

Grafting in the fruit industry is very common primarily to control plant size and disease resistance in the U.S.  Research also suggests that it is an effective tool in vegetable production to increase yield, soil salinity tolerance, and pathogen resistance.  It is used extensively across the world and although it is not

Directions to Howell's Farm
Howell’s Farm is located at 3145 Howell Court, Cumming, Iowa 50061. From the Cumming exit (exit 65) south of Des Moines, drive west on G14.  Follow the pavement 4.25 miles.  The farm is on the left.

For more details about the field days, contact Joe Hannan at 515.993.4281 or jmhannan@iastate.edu.