Save the Farms in the Midwest U.S.

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 andeducational 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 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.


Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thanks for the article

Kelli Sok
Kelli Sok7 years ago

I live near Iowa, and I also visit friends in Missouri...I'll have to plan some extra trips.

gail d.
gail dair7 years ago


Carole K.
Carole K7 years ago

This is absolutely wonderful!!! I have always known that I had a great childhood experience growing up on an Iowa farm (actually not too far from the one this author mentions); & now everyone else can know about it too. I can't wait to read the upcoming articles from surrounding states. Rural life is awesome; but one of drawbacks is that rural people do not promote their wholesome healthy lifestyle. Now change is starting to happen with this!!??

lorraine c.
lorraine c7 years ago

Iowa is awesome. I once drove through it and was amazed by the miles and miles of well-kept, productive farms.

Patricia R.
Patricia R7 years ago

I agree a thousand per cent - save the farms, but END THE SLAUGHTERHOUSES AND ANIMAL AGRICULTURE.
According to the 2006 United Nations agricultural report, ANIMAL agriculture (that is slaughterhouse production) causes MORE global warming than ALL TRANSPORTATION. In fact, it is so energy intensive, that two recent reports put its aggravation of global warming at 51% of the cause.
Like the extreme heat across the country? Tons of mosquitoes, wildfires destroying forests and wildlife in Russia, a million people displaced by flooding in Pakistan, 532 dead in Belgium from heat, a destroyed Gulf of Mexico and dying oceans from agricultural run-off and overkill...this is EXPONENTIAL.
Google the article, "LIVESTOCK's LONG SHADOW" and realize that the DAIRY push to add cheese to everything is MISERY for farm animals. The male babies are taken behind closed doors where they NEVER know their mother or any kindness, chained by the neck for 16 weeks, fed an anemic diet and killed at four months of age. If you say, "BUT I don't eat VEAL!" - no matter - veal is a BY-product of the dairy industry and inextricably a part of the financial bottom line. The veal will be used in bratwurst and sausage to maximize profits. The white huts you see are NOT veal huts - they are for the "lucky" milker calves - the little girls also taken from their mothers to produce an obscene amount of milk for humans so that they are worn out and slaughtered for their gifts at age 4 or 5. Some thanks

mark h.
Mark H7 years ago

This is an ecouraging, and fine article. Yes, Iowa is famous for encouraging creative thinking.

Mary Coleman
Mary C7 years ago

thanks for the story, and yay again to IOWA.

Sharon S.
Sharon S7 years ago

Living in the middle of Canada's most fertilize valley, with my home right in the middle of two orchards, I buy locally as often as possible. Yet how futile, when on one side, the entire crop of the fruit of 100 cherry trees has been left to drop to the ground for the third year in a row. And an entire orchard of apple and cherry trees on the other side has just this summer been ripped out of the ground by their 80 something yr old owner...nobody wants to take care of them...

Jan C.
j C7 years ago

As a midwest girl, I'm not surprised about Iowa. Why are you???!