Category Archives: Organic Veggies

Organics as value-added approach for Driftless agriculture

Jim Riddle recently did a video on “What is Organic?” for SPNN and the St. Paul Farmers Market. View it at:

During the interview, he was asked about GMOs, and why people are concerned. I mentioned that researchers in Europe have found Bt corn damages the liver and other internal organs of lab animals. Here’s a link to one of the studies I was referring to, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health,” published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences:

Northeast Iowa Local Food Directories Available

The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter announces the 2012 Local Food Directory is now available. The directory has been connecting consumers with direct marketing farmers for six years. Buying local products from farmers is good for you, your family, your community and the environment.

This year’s directories were printed in a unique partnership with Inspire(d) magazine, a local publication based out of Decorah, Iowa. Inspire(d) covers positive news in the Driftless Region – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, and Western Wisconsin and can be picked up for free at more than 100 locations across the region. Directories are also available online at – click on Finding Local Food.

The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local Chapter is part of the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm (NIFF) Coalition and the Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI). Together, they are working to create community environments that support access to fresh, locally-grown food. More information about these programs can be found at

The Buy Fresh – Buy Local guide for the Dubuque region is in production and should be available shortly.

2012 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day

2012 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day

July 23, 2012, 8:30am – 3:00pm
ISU Horticulture Research Station (near Gilbert, IA)

A field day highlighting Iowa State University fruit and vegetable research is planned for July 23 at the ISU Horticulture Research Station near Gilbert. Organizers say the field day will be of interest to commercial producers, small-scale growers, master gardeners and home gardeners.

The field day will feature research-based information on a variety of topics including biochar, apple root stocks and training systems, organic production, and high-tunnel fruit and vegetable production. It is scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., giving vegetable and fruit producers ample information to enhance their skills and diversify gardens and acreages.

During the afternoon session a panel of growers, researchers, agriculture professionals and extension personnel will discuss current and future needs of the fruit and vegetable industry in Iowa. Also showcased will be a student-run vegetable enterprise geared towards developing entrepreneurial and business skills. The Department of Horticulture and Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will partner with the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association to sponsor the event.

“We firmly believe that strong grower-researcher collaboration is needed to address ongoing issues and challenges, and develop new ideas for fruit and vegetable research in Iowa,” said Ajay Nair, extension vegetable specialist.

The $25 field day registration fee includes lunch, refreshment breaks and abstracts of ongoing research projects. Online registration is available at Early registration for the field day is $25 through midnight, July 16. Late registration or at the gate will be $35. To assist with meal and facility planning, advance registration is greatly appreciated.

Contact: Ajay Nair, Horticulture, (515) 294-7080.

Transportation Costs and Considerations

Mark your calendar for a Workshop on transportation costs, the evening of May 2, 2012 in Dubuque. This event is targeted to farmers who want to assess what their transportation costs are and consider alternate ways to get their products to market. The event is free, but we need an RSVP to ensure adequate refreshments. Please spread the word throughout the region.

Land Stewardship Project and Iowa Extension is offering the workshop, in conjunction with the UW-Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the National Center on Freight Infrastructure, Research and Education.

The Good Food Revolution in SW WI

Charlene Elderkind at the Viroqua Food Co-op tells the story of her community’s efforts in “The Good Food Revolution” .  Charlene has participated in both Driftless conferences to date.

We suggest a full perusal of the co-op’s website which features a blog that gives some insight into the development of co-op and other Driftless-related posts.

Next Steps for Organic Vegetable Breakout Group


The organic vegetable sector group identified strengths such as their broad production knowledge, diverse regional and national connections, and their commitments to care for the land while providing quality vegetables for their communities.  Other strengths they named included multitasking, communicating thoughts and ideas, seeing ways to integrate systems, and complementing and fostering ecological health in small segments of the landscape.  They saw opportunities in strengthening these ties to conservation including the issue of containing urban sprawl, developing their networks and connections.  They also saw opportunities to communicate ethics, ideas, and motives in order to bring about agricultural transitions, and to integrate ecological concerns with production efficiency.

Next steps:

  • What strategies should we employ to best communicate the ethics, ideas, and motives behind agricultural transitions towards?
  • How can we advance ecological sustainability while ensuring production efficiency?
  • How can we continue to build networks and share knowledge to support our growing organic producer community?

We would like to encourage your participation in continuing conversations. Please step forward by posting a comment below or by emailing us.  If you have suggestions on how we can proceed please don’t hesitate to share them.