Beginning Farmers

Goal: Increasing the number of beginning farmers growing food for Iowa and developing support for beginning farmers

Projects and updates

  • Beginning farmer training

Small-scale, diversified local food farmers may find it difficult to find the appropriate resources in Iowa. The Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers is a first attempt to make ISU resources and others readily available for interested folks.

In the future, we would like to see more organized support for beginning farmers in Iowa.

Unlike in other states (Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and others), there is no certification program for beginning farmers in Iowa. An official, accredited training program would not only allow beginning farmers to access the tools and resources to increase their knowledge and technical skills, but also serve as a confidence voucher for bankers, landlords, and others that start-up farmers deal with.

Project updates
  • Prison garden and training program

In partnership with the College of Design, the inmates at the Iowa Correctional Facility for Women (Mitchellville, IA) are landscaping the prison’s campus into production gardens, outdoor classrooms, and therapy gardens. The Local Foods Team is assisting this project by helping connect them to appropriate resources (horticulture assistance, funding, budgeting, food safety, etc.). 2015 was the first growing season for the prison’s production garden. The next step is to design and develop a holistic training program including production practices, post-harvest handling, budgeting, health and wellness, as well as basic job skills. Find out more about the Landscape Architecture students’ project, or contact Alice ( for more information.

Project updates
  • Outreach to future farmers at Iowa State University

ISU’s College of Agriculture is one of the top ones in the country, and many Iowa farmers get degrees there before going back to their family farm, or starting a new enterprise. Our goal is to expose these future farmers to alternative agriculture practices, local food markets, etc.

Project updates
Savanna learning to drive a BJC tiller at Global Greens Farm (Lutheran Services of Iowa, Des Moines)
Savanna learning to drive a BCS tiller at Global Greens Farm (Lutheran Services of Iowa, Des Moines)



Back to Our Work

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Local Foods Program
Curtiss Hall, Ames, IA 50011; 515-294-3086