As we continue exploring some of the nation’s diverse agri tourism spots, I wanted to mention that part of the reason I am doing this is to show that despite popular perception, there are countless individuals and groups working hard to change our food system in places where often we hear just the opposite.
For example, one state that most people wouldn’t automatically think of as being very sustainable-farm friendly is Iowa.
But Iowa is home to one of the nation’s best known sustainable agriculture centers, The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.
Its mission: “The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation.”
Iowa is also home to dozens of small and family farmers that are members of the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture (INCA), that has the mission “INCA cultivates connections among Iowans to create healthy, fair, and sustainable local food systems. The realization of a vital and integrated local food system within the state of Iowa that sustains producers, consumers, and the environment through dynamic supportive partnering networks.”
One of INCA’s best-known members is Rolling Acres Farm, near Atlantic, Iowa, a CSA community-supported agriculture farm owned by Denise O’ Brien and Larry Harris, well-known sustainable agriculture advocates. Their farm is located in the rolling hills of southwest Iowa about 50 miles from Omaha, Nebraska.
Many other INCA members are listed on Local Harvest’s search site, with a total of nearly 60 listed.
There is also a Visit Iowa Farms Program affiliated with Iowa State Extension. It lists farms and other sites by region and amenities. As they say on their site “Agritourism is a growing segment of the rural economy in many areas of Iowa. This website is your guide to rich and educational agricultural experiences in Iowa.”
Examples of Iowa agri tourism listed on the site include bed and breakfasts, Christmas tree farms, farmers’ markets, fruit and vegetable u-picks, hiking, fishing, mazes, retail stores, trail riding and wineries.
The Visit Iowa Farms program is supported by the Iowa Winegrowers Association, Des Moines of Buy Fresh, Buy Local and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
And since the recent floods in eastern Iowa, the state can use tourist dollars to help it recover, particularly since several farms and agricultural industries in Eastern Iowa offer tours.
One of the reasons I decided to write about Iowa is the comments from Care2.com readers who wanted to hear about destinations in the Midwest. I also received several requests for Missouri, so here’s a rundown of agri tourism there:
Agri-Missouri is a guide to Missouri’s food and farm products and agritourism destinations. It also includes other food products, harvest festivals, and educational tours.
The site has a downloadable 2010 agritourism map with 89 members that not only include farms and farmer’ markets but wineries and retailers of Missouri-made products.
Remember, as they say in their brochure, many farm and farm destinations operate seasonally and are at the mercy of mother nature, so always call or email to make sure that they are open.
The brochure highlights the commodity and activities that each site offers, there’s even a category for educational farms, nut farms, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms.
The site also features the Missouri Farmers’ Market Directory and an updated Harvest Calendar so you can check to see if your favorite produce is in season.
In addition, a quick search of Local Harvest found 428 farms listings for the state of Missouri. One of these is Terra Bella Farm, near Columbia, Missouri. This well known sustainable farm is a certified organic produce and flower operation that has a CSA and also sells at area farmers’ markets. They also lead educational farm tours.
For those who are looking for grass fed products, the Eat Wild site lists almost 50 Missouri producers.
Coming up in the next few weeks, more states and regions requested by Care 2 readers including Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin.