Small Farms

The Small Farms Team provides outreach to rural Iowans to connect them with relevant agricultural resources and programs from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Outreach channels include a bi-monthly newsletter, monthly podcast, social media, annual conference, and workshops.

Our clients: farmers, acreage owners, service providers

Our services:

Farmer Profitability: Staff members conduct economic research on local food systems including development of enterprise budgets and market analysis. The small farms team will add additional decision tools, field strategies and outreach to niche farms across the state. Visit the Small Farm Sustainability website for resources, including our popular podcast series (scroll to bottom of page for latest episodes).

Food Safety: Staff help growers and industry professionals prepare for and comply with FDA’s FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) Produce Safety Rule through the following services: produce safety alliance trainings; on-farm readiness reviews; assistance in farm food safety plans; education, outreach and technical assistance; and legislative and policy research. Visit ISU’s Safe Produce website for more information and resources.

MarketReady: The MarketReady program educates producers on how to effectively enter wholesale, retail, and institutional markets. This program addresses the market development risks and relationships farmers and ranchers need to manage as they plan to scale up successfully.

Value-added Opportunities: We develop research and partnerships to determine areas of opportunity for Iowa’s small farmers to diversify or add additional enterprise options to their farm.

Specialty Crops Risk Management: Visit the Small Farms Youtube Page to view our series of 10 free webinars on various risk management topics for specialty crop producers, featuring extension and industry experts.

Visit Iowa Farms: Visit Iowa Farms (VIF) serves as the ISU Extension and Outreach resource for agritourism producers. Staff work to connect farmers with the information and resources they need to be a successful destination. VIF puts on workshops to inform producers of the risks that arise once visitors come on their farm. VIF maintains a website ( where farms can register their operation at no cost. The site serves as an agritourism destination search tool for the whole state.

Iowa CSA Directory and Iowa Food Hub Directory: Our staff maintains the only statewide directory of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and a directory of food hubs operating in Iowa.

Iowa SARE: The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program provides travel scholarships, mini-grants and professional development opportunities for ISU Extension and Outreach personnel. Larger SARE grants are available, and are promoted through workshops, information booths, and sponsorships at relevant conferences.

Christa Hartsook

AgMRC: The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center exists to provide value-added agriculture information to producers and service providers nationally. The site offers profiles of value-added opportunities and directories of consultants.

Small Farms two-page flyer

Our Small Farms Team is led by Christa Hartsook, (515) 294-4430.

Other team members include: Kendra Meyer (agri-tourism); Olivia Hanlon (risk management and beginning farms); Alex Burke (communications); and Teresa Wiemerslage (food safety and procurement).

Small Farm Sustainability podcast