Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing finishes among top three finalists in “Grow Your Future” contest

Finalist in “Grow Your Future” contest ... Bobbi Jo Berg of Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing was a finalist and selected as a third-place finisher in the Iowa Farm Bureau “Grow Your Future” contest at the Young Farmer Conference held February 2-3 in Altoona. Pictured above, left to right, Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Advisory Council Chairperson Vanessa Trampel presents a third-place award of $2,500 to Berg and her Recipes from French Creek business. Submitted photo.

Ashley Wenke of Pleasant Grove Homestead near Montezuma was named Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s “Grow Your Future” Award first-place winner at the organization’s Young Farmer Conference held February 2-3 in Altoona. Wenke took home a $7,500 grand prize to expand her direct-to-consumer produce and meat business.

Also among the finalists in this year’s competition was Bobbi Jo (Wild) Berg, from Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing of Allamakee County. Her business creates freezer meals with locally sourced ingredients, including eggs from her own farm, and she finished in third place as one of the finalists in the competition and received a prize of $2,500.

Wenke, along with her husband, Zachary, grows more than 40 different crops in addition to meat birds and laying hens. In 2023, they sold more than 1,200 meat chickens at farmers markets and food cooperatives. Through the Iowa Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program, their farm provided $9,000 of fresh fruits and vegetables to local food pantries in 2023 and continues to supply 90 dozen eggs weekly to meet nutritional needs of the community.

The Wenkes plan to use their winnings to purchase stainless steel tables, shelves for their cooler and harvest crates for deliveries. These items are expected to increase their farm’s efficiency by 30% to better meet the needs of their growing customer base, says Wenke.

The Grow Your Future competition helps young farmers, ages 18-35, amplify their niche market, unique ag service or specialty business. Contestants submitted a video application in August of 2023. A public vote held in December during Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual meeting narrowed the contestant pool from five selected applicants to three. The three finalists then participated in a live pitch-off in front of 550 Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference attendees.

“During the public voting, we were so excited to see the number of people in our local community rallying around us and supporting us with their daily votes,” says Wenke. “This award not only allowed us to receive funds to grow our operation, but we were also able to share our experience and growth with others across the state who are interested in similar work to ours.”

In second place, Carly Zierke of Sweet Season Farm in Winneshiek County won $5,000. Zierke and her husband, Ethan, sell produce via subscriptions and collaborate with another local farm to diversify their offerings.

“This competition is another example of how our grassroots organization works,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, Iowa Farm Bureau farm business development manager. “Five years ago, our young farmer committee wanted to highlight and support fellow farmers who were thinking outside the box and meeting consumer demand in niche markets. Since then, we’ve been able to award money to farmers who raise crickets, grow mushrooms, have direct-to-consumer businesses and offer agri-tourism opportunities. It’s been great to elevate entrepreneurs who are strengthening agriculture and their local communities.”

To learn more about the Grow Your Future Award, visit