Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2020 farminar season starts January 7

Topics include cereal rye for weed control, managing pests in organic vegetables, farm trusts and more

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2020 winter webinar series, referred to as “farminars,” will start on Tuesday, Jan. 7, with a presentation on an incubator farm model in Minnesota.

The event is one of 11 farminars offered through March 17 on issues relevant to beginning and experienced row crop, livestock and horticulture farmers, as well as landowners and those interested in farm transfer issues.

All farminars run weekly on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. CST and are free for anyone with an internet connection to participate. Each presentation focuses on a unique production or business management topic, and is led by a farmer or subject-matter expert. Attendees are able to ask questions in real-time using a chatbox while they listen and watch a slideshow. Each farminar is recorded and archived at for later viewing.

First launched in 2009, farminars offer practical knowledge and a way for farmers of all enterprises to continue learning and networking with one another through the winter.

The first farminar of the season, on Jan. 7, will be led by Dayna Burtness, Heidi Eger and Bailey Lutz, of Nettle Valley Farm near Spring Grove, Minnesota. Dayna and her husband, Nick, started the farm in 2015 and now offer beginning farmers access to 67 acres of grazable land, equipment and buildings through an incubator farm model.

Heidi and Bailey have each taken advantage of this program to access land at Nettle Valley Farm and launch their own independent farm operations. In the farminar, the trio will discuss how the program works and how they have learned to navigate the successes and challenges of participating in an incubator farm.

Other topics in Practical Farmers’ 2020 farminar series will cover pest and weed management in organic vegetable systems; raising and marketing fresh cut flowers; using cereal rye to control weeds in row crop systems; creating habitat on farmland for imperiled native species; switching from cows to pigs for faster returns; combining livestock and cover crops to address climate change; farm trusts; and raising pigs in a regenerative system.

To participate: Go to, click the “Join in” button and sign in as “Guest.” A schedule of all upcoming farminars – as well as recordings of archived farminars – is also available at that link.

Note: A complete list of farminars is also included below, along with a list of presenters organized alphabetically by community.

Practical Farmers’ 2020 winter farminars are made possible with funding from Cedar Tree, Ceres Trust, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, McKnight Foundation, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development.

Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit

2020 Winter Farminar Line-Up
1). Jan. 7 – “Growing Farmers: Using an Incubator Farm Model to Help Beginning Farmers” – Dayna Burtness, Heidi Eger, Bailey Lutz
Access to land and limited business planning experience are two hurdles beginning farmers are likely to encounter. Dayna Burtness and her husband Nick have decided to support beginning farmers using an incubator farm model near Spring Grove, Minnesota. The program provides access to 67 acres of grazable land, equipment and buildings; low-interest loans; and joint-marketing opportunities for three seasons. During their first season together, Dayna and beginning farmers Heidi Eger and Bailey Lutz have learned how to navigate the successes and challenges of running and participating in an incubator farm.
• Dayna Burtness has been farming on and off since 2004 and launched Nettle Valley Farm in 2015. She finishes heritage-breed hogs on pasture and runs the farm’s beginning farmer program.
• Heidi Eger is a beginning farmer operating Radicle Heart Farm on land accessed at Nettle Valley Farm. She raises Katahdin-Dorper sheep and Freedom Ranger chickens.
• Bailey Lutz has been farming for three years and raises Kiko goats and heritage-breed ducks. The 2019 season at Nettle Valley Farm was Bailey’s first year operating as Listenmore Farm. 

2). Jan. 14 – “Organic Greens Production in High Tunnels” – Mike Bollinger, Katie Prochaska
Transitioning vegetable production to a high tunnel requires shifts in management. Mike Bollinger and his wife, Katie Prochaska, have been growing vegetables in high tunnels for over a decade at River Root Farm. The certified organic operation outside Decorah, Iowa, focuses on farm-direct wholesale of salad greens, microgreens, herbs, florals and spring plant sales. Mike and Katie share the ins and outs of crop selection, seeding and plant protection. In addition, Mike use his knowledge as a former greenhouse manufacturer to answer questions regarding structural considerations.
• Mike Bollinger and Katie Prochaska own and operate River Root Farm, a certified organic operation focused on direct wholesale of greens, herbs and florals near Decorah, Iowa. The couple has over a decade of experience growing vegetables in high tunnels.

3). Jan. 21 – “Organic Pest Control in Vegetable Crops” – Jennifer Glenister
Managing pests on an organic vegetable farm is challenging due to the diversity of crops and compliance limitations. As the operator at New Morning Farm in south-central Pennsylvania, Jennifer Glenister oversees 25 acres of organic vegetable production, manages marketing and nurtures a team of 10 apprentice vegetable growers. In this farminar, Jennifer share her experience with a variety of cultural practices, bio-controls and organic spray options for pest control on crops from arugula to zucchini.
• Jennifer Glenister is the farm operator at New Morning Farm, a 47-year-old diversified, organic vegetable farm in Hustontown, Pennsylvania. She relies on a range of cultural and biophysical treatment options to manage pests.

4). Jan. 28 – “Blooming Markets: Strategies for Developing Customer Relationships” – Gretel Adams
Motivated by an immense joy for flowers, artistry and stewardship of land and community, Gretel Adams and her husband Steve established Sunny Meadow Farm in 2007. The urban flower farm outside Columbus, Ohio, provides a selection of cut flowers and premade bouquets for retail and wholesale. In this farminar, Gretel will share insights on the importance of quality control, determining markets and pricing, cultivating professional relationships and acknowledging your own business style.
• Gretel Adams grows fresh cut flowers for retail and wholesale at her urban operation, Sunny Meadow Flower Farm, near Columbus, Ohio.

5). Feb. 4 – “Organic Weed Management in Vegetable Crops” – Andrew Dunham, T.D. Holub
A successful weed management program looks different from farm to farm but ultimately relies on a combination of technique and timing. Andrew Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm and T.D. Holub of Garden Oasis Farm share their organic weed management philosophies, along with equipment and strategy preferences. They specifically will discuss the use of cultivation equipment, plastic mulch, cover crops, crop rotation, compost and transplants.
• Andrew Dunham grows certified organic fruits, vegetables and nuts on 22 acres at Grinnell Heritage Farm in Grinnell, Iowa.
• T.D. Holub raises 8 acres of vegetables along with pastured poultry and eggs at Garden Oasis Farm near Coggon, Iowa.

6). Feb. 11 – “Cereal Rye for Weed Management: A New Tool in the Toolbox?” – Sam Bennett, Gina Nichols
Cover crops can offer a host of benefits for producers. In this farminar, Sam Bennett and Gina Nichols focus on cereal rye’s ability to suppress weeds in corn and soybean systems. Sam is a PFI cooperator who conducts on-farm research on cover crops, no-till and strip-till practices on his corn, soybean and small-grains operation. He will share his observations of cereal rye impacts on weed suppression. Gina, a doctoral student at Iowa State University, will outline her findings from the weed and cover crop literature and the results of her analysis of soil samples taken at other PFI cooperators’ cover crop strip trials.
• Sam Bennett uses cover crops, no-till and strip-till to improve soil health and suppress weeds on his family’s 2,000-acre corn, soybean and small-grains farm near Galva, Iowa.
• Gina Nichols is a doctoral student in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. Her research examines the influence of crop diversification and cover crops on farm systems.

7). Feb. 18 – “Creating Habitat with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program” – Gregg Pattison
Gregg Pattison spent his youth exploring the rivers, streams and woodlands of northeast Iowa. When he went to college, he paid for his first year by selling a small herd of Angus cattle. Gregg embraces his passion for conservation and agriculture as a private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In this farminar, viewers will learn about how the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program can provide landowners with technical assistance and funding for rusty patch bumblebees and Topeka shiner habitat conservation.
• Gregg Pattison is a private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based in Decorah, Iowa. He assists landowners with habitat conservation for rusty-patch bumblebees and Topeka shiners.

8). Feb. 25 – “A Quicker Return! Switching from Cows to Pigs” – Phil Kramer, Andrew and Marissa Waldo
Fifth-generation hog farmer Phil Kramer and newcomers Andrew and Marissa Waldo share their unique perspectives on raising hogs in Iowa. Phil is the northwest Iowa farrow-to-finish field agent for Niman Ranch; his own operation consists of 65 farrow-to-finish sows. Andrew and Marissa decided after some experimentation with grass-fed beef that hogs suit their small acreage best. In this farminar, you will learn more about land requirements, facility and infrastructure considerations, genetic selection and herd health, marketing opportunities, increasing returns and decreasing overall risk when raising hogs.
• Philip Kramer is a fifth-generation hog farmer near Hardy, Iowa, and the farrow-to-finish field agent for Niman Ranch Pork Division in northwest Iowa.
• Andrew and Marissa Waldo are beginning farmers near Cascade, Iowa, navigating endless operational decisions on their small-scale acreage. After experimenting with grass-fed beef, they have decided to pursue hogs for quicker returns.

9). March 3 – “Livestock and Cover Crops as a Solution to Climate Change” – Monte Bottens
Monte Bottens is unwavering in his quest to incorporate livestock back onto the land. Monte farms in Illinois but works with farmers across the Midwest and western states to improve soil health and mitigate climate change through on-farm research. With his team, he runs Project MOO, an integrated grazing project that develops tools, systems, management and marketing to support profitable stacked grazing enterprises. The project’s current research is looking at crop rotations, crop row widths and mobile grazing solutions for issues such as fencing, water and shade.
• Monte Bottens farms near Cambridge, Illinois, and encourages farmers to integrate livestock back onto the landscape using high-diversity cover crops and on-farm research.

10). March 10 – “Trusts: Keep the Family a Family and the Farm the Farm” – Travis Benson, Amy Williams
Traditional estate planning offers simple outright distribution patterns or purchase options but typically fails to meet the realities of modern-day farming. An alternative approach is the use of trusts. As Travis Benson of Thompson Law says, “a trust is like a truck – there are numerous makes and models, all with different features, but also similarities.” In this farminar, Travis will team with Amy Williams of Cornerstone Private Asset Trust Company to explain what a trust is, how trusts work and how they can be used to create a legacy plan that transitions assets to the next generation in a smart and protective manner.
• Travis Benson is a lawyer at Thompson Law, based in in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and helps farm families navigate estate planning using trusts.
• Amy Williams is a trust officer with Cornerstone Private Asset Trust Company based in Bloomington, Minnesota, and has over 15 years of experience in banking, trust and investment banking.

11). March 17 – “Pork Marketing: Relationships and Regenerative Agriculture” – Russ Kremer
Since his childhood, Russ Kremer has been passionate about raising pigs. Today, this fifth-generation farmer is the founder of Heritage Foods – the most prominent supplier of Non-GMO Project Verified pork in the country. He is a longtime advocate for sustainable and regenerative agriculture and its benefits for rural economies. In this farminar, Russ will discuss his journey developing relationship marketing, the value of regenerative agriculture and a payment system he uses with farmer members to ensure annual opportunities for fair profit and return on investment.
• Russ Kremer farms near Frankenstein, Missouri, and is the founder of the Heritage Foods producer network, a nationwide supplier of Non-GMO Project Verified pork.

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