The public is invited to attend a field day to learn more about the progress Soper Farms is experiencing transitioning from a conventional farm to an organic operation. The field day, sponsored by Soper Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), will be held Friday, Oct. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. Supper will follow the field day.
"In the process of producing healthy, organic, locally grown food, we are also working to close as many gaps and dependencies as possible in our nutrient, feed, and energy cycles," said Harn Soper. "We welcome our neighbors to come by and share in our progress."
In fall 2010, Soper Farms began transitioning 260 acres on two of their farms from commercial corn and soybeans production to organic grass-fed livestock and vegetables. Their first step in launching their new business, New Shoots Farm, has been to prepare the ground for organic production. Last fall, cover crops were planted to help retain rich topsoil, suppress weed growth, and return nitrogen to the soil.
Much of the land-160 acres-will be used for pasture to finish up to 160 head of Black Angus annually using a rotational grazing model. Approximately 10,000 pasture-raised chickens will follow the cattle rotation each season.
The farm is managed by Jarret Herke. Recent projects on the farm include building a livestock barn and maintenance building that will also house a chicken-processing facility. The remaining 100 acres will be allotted to vegetable production.
Tony Pille, vegetable operations manager, is overseeing the addition of hoop houses and facilities for washing, packing, and cooling produce, as well as an integrated compost-management system designed to capture heat from aerobic compost and biogas from anaerobic compost.
Rich Schuler, PFI energy consultant, will be at the field day to explain the process and how this will improve the efficiency and profitability of the farm.
New Shoots is closely aligned with a farm store, bakery, and caf, which are being remodeled in Emmetsburg. The new business will feature beef, chicken, and vegetables from New Shoots and other organic and locally grown products from neighboring farms.
The field day, which will highlight these new business endeavors, is free and includes supper, provided by Soper Farms. Space is limited. Please RSVP to the Practical Farmers of Iowa office at 515-232-5661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Soper Farms, take N40 north of the golf course, jogging right then left onto 460th Avenue. Drive 5.6 miles north to 300th Street. Turn left on 300th Street and go 2.2 miles. At the old corn crib, turn left and follow the signs.