Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:09 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Dining on Nettles, Milkweed and Dandelions

Forager Adam Hintz said knowing how to find food in nature gives him a sense of food security, knowing that even if a natural catastrophe disrupts the food production chain, he can still feed his family.
Credit Hilary Stohs-Krause / Harvest Public Media

 

 It’s a humid, windy day in southeast Nebraska, and Adam Hintz is hunting for morels. The mushroom, which kind of looks like a shrunken brain, is known for being elusive, and so far, nothing’s turned up.

But lots of other edibles have.

“This is a common milkweed,” Hintz said, eying a patch of knee-high green plants with veiny leaves. “You can eat it in three different forms throughout the year.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 4, 2013

My Farm Roots: A cowboy at heart

Once an average suburban Colorado kid, Trent Johnson spent years ranching and now owns storied cowboy outfitter Greeley Hat Works.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This is the fourth installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Trent Johnson didn’t grow up on a farm, but he was always enamored with the cowboy lifestyle.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Who wants biotech wheat?

Nebraska farmer Larry Flohr, squeezes out a kernel of unripened wheat.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Thu June 27, 2013

My Farm Roots: A song in her heart

Retired professor Jackie Dougan Jackson lives in Springfield, Ill., but devotes a lot of time reflecting on her childhood growing up on a farm near Beloit, Wisc.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

This is the third installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Hearty Rootworms Revive
8:57 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Farmers Return to Insecticides

Credit Aaron Gassmann

After foregoing insecticides for a decade, Iowa corn farmers are returning to chemicals to control their  number one  pest, the corn rootworm.   That’s because the insect has developed resistance to Bt corn.    Experts say that’s  bad for farmers' profits  and the environment.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Scientists check Corn Belt waters for effects of ag runoff

One of the U.S. Geological Survey teams collecting water samples in Missouri this summer: biologist Diana Papoulias, chemist Dave Alvarez, hydrologist Peter Van Metre, biologist Diane Nicks and environmental toxicologist Don Tillitt.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Eleven miles northeast of Centralia, Mo., five U.S. Geological Survey scientists don waders and bright reflective life jackets to wade into Goodwater Creek. Plenty of fish live in the stream’s murky slow-moving waters, along with snakes, crayfish, mussels and snapping turtles. On this overcast morning, the team collects water samples and checks submerged cages of fathead minnows for eggs.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Starting a farm, with an immigrant twist

Air Philavanh bought an 11-acre farm in Milo, Iowa after living in the Midwest for about 30 years. He came to this country as a refugee from Laos in his early 20s.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Air Philavanh is a new farmer in central Iowa who came to this country from Laos as a refugee more than 30 years ago. Today, he’s living on an 11-acre farm in Milo, Iowa about an hour from Des Moines. He bought the place three years ago and he’s built a brand-new shelter for his four beef calves off the end of a decrepit old barn. He’s made many other improvements, too, as he gets his farm up and running. In addition to the cattle, he hopes to add ducks. It’s a far cry from his day job with Citigroup—and not what he initially imagined for himself.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
10:41 pm
Sun June 23, 2013

Farm fields dotted with rainwater instead of crops

Farm fields stymied by frequent rain are well past optimum planting dates making thousands of acres unproductive this season. Farmers hope to be able to seed cover crops to prevent wind and water from eroding the barren top soil.
Photo by Dean Borg

Farmers in Winnebago, Worth, and Cerro Gordo  counties have been stymied by frequent, heavy rains. Now well past optimum planting dates, thousands of acres will be unproductive this year as farmers hope to be able to seed cover crops to prevent wind and water from eroding the barren top soil.


 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:59 am
Fri June 21, 2013

House rejects farm bill

The Farm Bill rejected by the House would have cut $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. Many Republicans were hoping for more cuts, while many Democrats thought the cuts too onerous.
Credit tpsdav/pixabay

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air.

The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:42 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Cousins raise fish in former hog barn

These hybrid bass are grown at Iowa's First
Pat Blank

Cousins and long-time business partners Jeff and Mark Nelson have immersed  themselves in aquaculture. They're growing fish in a part of the country where pork is king. They've converted a former hog confinement building into a farm-raised fish venture called Iowa's First.  They have eighteen, ten thousand gallon tanks filled with hybrid bass which they ship to restaurants all over the country. The Nelsons are also experimenting with growing shrimp.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu June 20, 2013

My Farm Roots: In hip Brooklyn, connecting with farm past

On the Brooklyn rooftop garden she helps maintain, Missouri native Monica Johnson says she's not afraid to show her farm roots.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This is the second installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:20 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Soybean planting slow

Rick and Grant Kimberley plant soybeans on their farm near Maxwell
Credit Courtesy photo

Spring planting could linger into the summer for many Iowa soybean farmers. The state's trading partners and commodity markets are keeping a close eye on what happens here and it could impact the economy down the road. Grant Kimberley is the market development director for the Iowa Soybean Association. He tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, this year has been a challenge.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Running a CSA can be a tricky business

Michael Baute farms three acres in Fort Collins, Colo. One-third of Spring Kite Farms goes to the farm’s CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, clients.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

 

Within the local food movement, the community supported agriculture model is praised. CSAs, as they’re commonly known, are often considered one of the best ways to restore a connection to the foods we eat.

The model is simple: Consumers buy a share of a farmer’s produce up front as a shareholder and then reap the rewards at harvest time. But running a CSA can bring with it some tricky business decisions.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon June 17, 2013

For CSAs, how big is too big?

Andy Grant walks among chickens that will provide eggs for a new CSA effort, Six Dog Farms.
Grace Hood for Harvest Public Media

Last year, one of the country’s largest Community Supported Agriculture share providers went bankrupt. Grant Family Farms in Northern Colorado launched an organic CSA back in 2007 with 127 members and peaked with more than 5,000 in 2012.

The story behind why Grant Family Farms went bankrupt is complicated. But it also sheds light on whether a CSA can become too big.

Losing It All

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Thu June 13, 2013

My Farm Roots: The 1980s farm crisis still resonates for fifth-generation Iowa farmer

Fifth-generation Iowa farmer Mark Kenney savors the lessons he learned from the 1980s farm crisis.
Amy Mayer/IPR

I met Mark Kenney on his family’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, when I was working on a story about farmer taxes. He turned out to be perfect for that—a farmer with a keen interest in spreadsheets.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Smithsonian plows into farming history

In the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History's staging area, curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. only get small glimpses of farming, such as a mural display of immigrant farmworkers planting crops in a 19th century California town. The museum once had an Agriculture Hall, but it was removed in 2006.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
12:24 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

At the farmer's market, with food stamps

April Segura, of Lincoln, Neb., uses her SNAP benefits to shop at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market with her sons Jalen, 5, and Jeriel, 1.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

April Segura is a regular at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Neb. On a warm, May afternoon, the single, stay-at-home mother of three greeted friends and acquaintances while strolling past tables of lettuce and herbs. She hoped to find more asparagus for sale.

“I love asparagus season and it’s probably about to be over,” said Segura, holding two grocery bags with one arm and her one-year-old son, Jeriel, with the other.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
9:11 am
Wed June 5, 2013

At the farmers market, with food stamps

April Segura, of Lincoln, Neb., uses her SNAP benefits to shop at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market with her sons Jalen, 5, and Jeriel, 1.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

April Segura is a regular at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Neb. On a warm, May afternoon, the single, stay-at-home mother of three greeted friends and acquaintances while strolling past tables of lettuce and herbs. She hoped to find more asparagus for sale.

“I love asparagus season and it’s probably about to be over,” said Segura, holding two grocery bags with one arm and her one-year-old son, Jeriel, with the other.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Broader competition for USDA's 'rural' dollars

Eugene Jacquez’s family has grown beans and raised sheep at the base of the Culebra peaks in San Luis, Colo., for generations. He belongs to the Rio Culebra Cooperative and says without federal funding, many of his neighbors may not sell to the co-op.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
9:05 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Federal funds flow to rural communities

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Bill Wheelhouse Harvest Public Media

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days. 

But for Staunton’s part-time mayor Craig Neuhaus, the plant represents more than water security. He expects the water system upgrade to help bring business to this town about 40 miles north of St. Louis.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:28 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Ames High students document sustainability

Berry Patch farm manager Lee Matteson poses while Douglas Gayeton helps Ames High junior Erin Cochran shoot a series of photos.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Inside a high tunnel at Berry Patch farm near Nevada, Iowa, strawberry baskets hang overhead and tomato plants stand tall already laden with fruit. Farm manager Lee Matteson picks several zucchini. Then, he stands there, holding the fresh squash while Will Weber, a sophomore environmental science student from Ames High School, takes a series of photographs.  Beside Weber, and holding another impressive-looking camera, Douglas Gayeton also takes pictures—and issues advice and suggestions to Weber.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Federal funds flow to rural communities

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days. 

But for Staunton’s part-time mayor Craig Neuhaus, the plant represents more than water security. He expects the water system upgrade to help bring business to this town about 40 miles north of St. Louis.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
9:38 am
Tue May 28, 2013

USDA releases labeling rule for meat

Under new USDA rules, products like this will need to carry a label that will notify consumers where the animals from which their meat was derived were born, raised and slaughtered.
Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

The USDA’s amended Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL, rule will require packers and retailers to include more information on labels on beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat meat, specifically where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Currently, labels only require companies to include where the animal was born.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Refugees find home on the farm

Lutheran Services of Iowa farm assistant Donna Wilterdink gives transplants to Cubwa Rajabu, who is cultivating a plot at Global Greens Farm.
Amy Mayer/IPR

On a small farm in suburban West Des Moines, Iowa, even the barn is a refugee—an historic structure relocated from nearby Valley High School. The farmers, most of them refugees, are just starting to hoe the land, each one working a 50-foot by 50-foot plot where they’ll grow corn, beans, cabbage, eggplant, onions, tomatoes and peppers.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Exploring the secret life of plants

Debby Greenblatt's home - a former school in Avoca, Neb. - is filled with plants.
Hilary Stohs-Krause for Harvest Public Media

 

Ever know someone who talks to plants?

Maybe it was your offbeat neighbor cooing at his gardenias; maybe your grandmother analyzed baseball with her cucumbers. It seems a bit silly, but researchers say farmers should maybe take notice.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:54 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Growing a local beer, farm to glass

Zach Weakland is a co-founder of High Hops Brewery in Windsor, Colo., which takes the farm to glass mantra seriously.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

How does a new craft brewer stand apart from the pack? A few have hitched their brewery onto the local food bandwagon, sourcing the ingredients that form beer’s DNA straight from the fields around them.

Last year, more than 400 breweries opened nationwide. It shouldn’t surprise that the craft beer industry is growing at a tremendous rate. In some states, like Colorado, there are so many craft breweries they’re starting to blend together.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Pallid sturgeon still endangered on the Missouri River

Thad Huenemann of Nebraska Game and Parks steers his boat down the Missouri River with Nebraska City, Neb., in the background.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The volunteer crew members pulled on their life jackets and climbed into a flat-bottomed aluminum boat at a ramp near Nebraska City, Neb. They came out early on a cold, gray April morning hoping to catch an endangered pallid sturgeon.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Conservation acres harder to come by

Iowa farmer John Berdo stands atop one of the terraces that helps control water flow on his crop fields. Terraces are one of many conservation measures Berdo employs.
Amy Mayer/IPR

At a basin in central Iowa’s Onion Creek Watershed, Sean McCoy pulls a state truck up near a brand-new wetland. It looks like a construction zone, with lots of bare earth.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Gluten-free by popular demand

Eliminating certain foods from a diet can be risky, says Paula Vandelicht, a nutritionist at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Columbia, Mo. Among other things, she advises customers about the shortcomings of a gluten-free diet.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Six months ago, Kara Welter drastically changed her diet by eliminating food that contains wheat, rye or barley.

“I don’t eat gluten,” said Welter, a 41-year-old marketing executive in Kansas City. “I happened to just try it because I was having stomach issues for years. And it turns out within three days, I stopped having stomach issues.”

Welter’s gluten decision stemmed from what she read online. Medical tests showed that she did not have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, the disorder that causes the immune system to reject the gluten.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue April 23, 2013

This little piggy has a niche market

These Berkshire pigs move between their feeding and water troughs, at the open end of their hoop house on Randy Hilleman’s farm in State Center, Iowa.
Amy Mayer/IPR

There’s more than one way to sell a pig.

And when the hog market plunged to 8 cents a pound in 1998, Iowa producer Randy Hilleman decided it was time to make a change. Hilleman raises Berkshire pigs, a breed that’s fattier than traditional pigs and costs a little more to raise. Back then, that was hurting him.

“If we took them into Marshalltown, [Iowa] to the big packing plant, we would get docked because they’re too fat,” Hilleman said. “What they pay on is lean, and we like to have some fat on ours.”

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