WAPELLO ? Iowa?s climate and soils are well known for their ability to grow corn and soybeans, but they are also well-suited to grow a variety of tree crops.
?Tree crops like chestnuts, pawpaws, American persimmon, heartnuts and Asian pears are all suitable for forest farming systems in Iowa, and they are a very environmentally sound way to make a profit off your land,? says Kathy Dice, co-owner of Red Fern Farm, an agroforestry farm near Wapello.
Kathy and her husband, Tom Wahl, have been raising a variety of nut, fruit and berry crops, as well as medicinal forest plants, at Red Fern Farm for more than 30 years. The family-run nursery and farm is the site of ongoing research on a variety of tree crops and forest farming systems. In addition to marketing their crops through U-pick, they raise and sell container-grown tree seedlings and medicinal planting roots suitable for the Midwest.
Kathy and Tom will share their experience raising and marketing a variety of tree crops at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Wednesday, Sept. 5, from 1-4 p.m., on their farm near Wapello (13882 I Ave., about 8 miles north of town).
The ?Tree Crop Field Class? is free, but attendance is limited to 50 people. Registration is required. Contact Debra Boekholder at email@example.com or 515-232-5661, by Monday, Sept. 3. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union and Sustainable Iowa Land Trust.
Attendees will learn about the site requirements, production, maintenance needs and marketing possibilities for a variety of tree crops, including chestnut, pawpaw, American persimmon, heartnut and Asian pear. Tom and Kathy will lead guests on a tour through their agroforestry farm and discuss how they market their crops through U-pick. There also will be an opportunity to sample some of the non-traditional crops featured throughout the day.
Directions: From the junction of U.S. 61 and Hwy 92, travel into Grandview (eastward) to the four-way stop at Jackson and Main streets. Turn right (south) onto Main Street and continue south out of town; the road will turn to gravel.
When the road intersects with 145th Street, ease left and continue about 1 mile. A large tree planting will be on the right. The field day will be in the tree planting just off the gravel road.
Parking note: Guests are asked to park along the gravel road on either side of the farm entrance, or travel 400 feet down the farm land for Red Fern Farm. Please do not park in the neighbors? gravel parking area on the right.