Archive for the ‘iowa food’ Category

Tim Diebel

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Tim Diebel retired from the ministry to go back to the land and started Fortunately for us, he was willing to serve as our interim minister at Norwalk Christian Church.   I appreciate all his sermons, but especially his “earthy” ones and it has been good to get to know him better.  His writings at are a quite enjoyable read.

Practical Farmer Webinars

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Want a great way to learn about new approaches to agriculture?  Market gardens, CSA marketing, pest control in organic agriculture, small grains, Fertility Management, poultry and more…

Check out Practical Farmers of Iowa Farminars:

Join Practical Farmers of Iowa while you are at it!

Fourth Annual Farm Crawl this weekend

Friday, October 1st, 2010

The Fourth Annual Farm Crawl will be winding its way through beautiful South Central Iowa this weekend (I might be a bit biased as it is where I grew up).  It’s free to visit an orchard, pumpkin farm, goat dairy, vegetable growers, and a potter.  For just $6 you can navigate the 18 acre corn maze at Dan-D Farms, south of Knoxville.

Check out their website at:

Time to Order Seeds and Plants

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

 Well, it’s one degree Fahrenheit outside and I am keeping my self warm with thoughts of spring planting. Our average last frost in central Iowa is about 12 weeks away. It’s time to get your seeds and plants ordered. You can even start some flower and allium family seeds now. I’ve had good luck growing leeks from seed and they don’t take much space.  I sow them thickly in a 3” pot, grow them under fluorescent shop lights (more on that in another article), trim the tops back so they stay about 3” tall, and when it comes time to plant them, dump the pot out and grab each individual seedling and put it in a little trench.

Here are some of the seed companies that I’ve used in the past and have been happy with:
  • FEDCO –; FEDCO is a cooperatively owned garden supply company.  They have separate supplies, trees, potatoes (Moose Tubers), and bulb catalogs.  Their catalog is full of whimsical illustrations, and amusing descriptions of their open pollinated and hybrid varieties.
  • Jung Seed –; Family owned and operated for 101 years, more of a mainstream company with a catalog packed with full color photographs. Unlike a lot of mainstream companies, they have a decent selection of open pollinated and heirloom varieties. They also have one or two of cultivars of many unusual varieties you can find at One Green World: sea berry, honeyberry, paw paws, hardy kiwi, etc.
  • One Green World – www.onegreenworld; has numerous varieties of unusual fruiting trees and shrubs, berries, and nut trees from around the world.
  • Peaceful Valley Farm Supply –; PVFS has a large selection of organic hybrid and open pollinated seeds, trees, berries and probably the biggest selection of organic supplies out there.  Seed descriptions are bare bones (but you can look information up elsewhere), prices are economical and you can receive free seeds with orders over $50. 
  • Seed Saver’s Exchange –; Established in 1975, membership is $35. You’ll then receive their mailings detailing 11,000 varieties, and trade with the members who maintain them. You can also order from their full color catalog or web site (with an abundant selection of heirloom/open pollinated seeds) and support their mission. Visit their farm if you are ever in Northeast Iowa – it’s a great time!
I am looking forward to trying these companies:
  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds –; Started by Jere Gettle when he was only 17 (1998), his catalog has grown to 100 pages of full color photographs and extensive descriptions of 100% open pollinated varieties. He has many unusual varieties from around the world.
  • Sandhill Preservation –; Family-run, low tech (read their instructions), extensive collection of open pollinated seeds, sweet potatoes and heirloom chickens. Past customers report packets with generous amounts of seed, free packets, and good prices.  
Seed and Plant Exchanges
There are a variety of groups where you can trade seeds with other people:
If you haven’t grown your own food, I hope you’ll give it a try this year. Start small, do some research, take time to observe and learn, and enjoy your harvest. If you are an avid gardener, I’d love to hear about your favorites, growing tips, etc. in the comments section.   

Farm Crawl

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

You’ve heard of pub crawls, but farm crawls?  Well, five farms in South Central Iowa banded together and sponsored an afternoon of farm tours on October 7th.  You can read more about it at  My family had a great time and managed to visit four of the five farms.  Check back soon for photos and more information on the food and fun.


Sunday, October 7th, 2007

I love fall — especially when it comes to food.  I love the hearty, filling nature of apples, potatoes, winter squash, carrots, parsnips…  It’s also nice to have some cool days when heating up the kitchen with cooking doesn’t seem counter productive to the task of trying to keep cool. 

Circle M FarmsI also love the colors of fall.  I visited the second-to-last Valley Junction Farmer’s Market to stock up on some items, and one stand really stood out: Circle M Produce from Martensdale Iowa.  I visited with Circle M’s proprieter Mike Misjak.  Mike is at a farmer’s market about every day of the week, except Sunday when he’s busy picking.  He helped start the Norwalk farmer’s market on Fridays.   On the day I visited, he had an abundance of winter squash, pumpkins, peppers, some summer squash, green beans, and watermelons.

Iowa Orchard Urbandale

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

You might be surprised to find an orchard in Urbandale (9875 Meredith Drive) and I was at first, until I considered just how fast the suburbs surrounding Des Moines have been growing.  I witnessed it first hand from my Grandparent’s house near Railroad and Grand, which 25 years ago bordered corn fields and now is likely near the population center of West Des Moines.

Iowa Orchard samplesAt the Iowa Orchard we met Bryan Etchen.  Bryan’s family purchased the orchard in 1974 and he took it over in 1991.  In addition to their Meredith Drive location, they have other orchards in the area.  This year’s late frost (freeze?) caused them to have about 90% fewer apples than normal.  Fortunately, Bryan has relationships with other orchards and had an ample supply of apples.  Some of the varieties available when we were there in September: Cortland, Johnathan, Ozark Beauty, Lura Red, Wealthy, and my favorite for fresh eating, Honey Crisp.  Varieties you’ve never heard of?  Don’t worry — Bryan and his staff are quick to hand out samples and provide recommendations.  We purchased a peck each of Honey Crisp and Wealthy.  As I write this a couple of weeks later, the Honey Crisps are nearly gone.  I’ve sampled a few of the Wealthy apples from the back of the fridge, and keep begging my wife to make this wonderful "Good Neighbor" apple cake recipe she has.  If I succeed, I’ll try to get the recipe and photos online to share.

Back to Iowa Orchard… this summer I purchased peaches on various occasions, hoping to find the perfect one — with little success.  Seeing that Bryan had Colorado peaches, I decided to give them a try.  Unfortunately, they were on par with the others.  Perhaps it was a poor year everywhere for peaches?

In addition to the fresh fruits, they offer apple butter, pies, fruit jams, marinades, and other fruits.  We purchased one of their cherry pies and it was wonderful (this coming from someone who typically isn’t fond of cherry pies). Fresh cherries, a hint of almond flavoring, flaky crust… it didn’t last long.

You can swing by their store seven days a week, or find them at many of the farmer’s markets.

Morel Mushrooms with Mustard Greens

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

One thing I’ve discovered with Mesclun mixes is that some of the varieties frequently outcompete the other varieties; I’ve run into this with some Botanical Interest Sassy Salad Mesclun (2005 seed) that I started in my coldframe early this spring… the mustard greens got themselves established before the other seeds.  It is also probably a case of the other seeds not storing as well.  Another issue I’ve run into with mixes is trying to identify what is a seedling and what is a weed…  Botanical Interest’s lovely illustration of full sized specimens on the seed packet helps, but it’s still challenging.  I may start to limit myself to planting varieties seperately and mixing them as they are cut.

I also lucked out and one of my neighbors shared some morels she had found.  I wasn’t in the mood to dig out the breadcrumbs, flour, eggs, milk, so when I went looking for something to pair up with the morels, those abundant mustard greens came to mind.  

This was a simple experimental dish: melt some butter, add the morels (sliced in half, submerged in water, rinsed well and drained) and saute them for 3-4 minutes.  As the morels neared completion, I added about a quarter cup of chopped mustard greens and then a little sherry cooking wine and sea salt.  I ended up with morels in a light sauce with a nice touch of spicy greens. Yum. 

Hey and wouldn’t that make a nice picture — that’s how the current web site header photograph came to be.

Plant a seed/Get cooking!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

This web site is an attempt to bring together a variety of my passions: lessening my impact on our Earth, gardening, cooking, photography, web development, teaching, learning, sharing, and entrepreneurism.

I hope this will be a resource where you can:

  • Find out about Iowa farmers and purchase from them
  • Discover restaurants that serve seasonal, locally produced food
  • Find seasonal recipes
  • Learn from my successes and failures growing food as locally as it can get (our backyard)

Check back soon for posts on these subjects: 

  • Why Think Global Eat Local? What does it mean?
  • Why start with a blog?
  • Big plans, future phases

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Thanks for visiting!

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