This year’s crop of Grow Your Future Award finalists includes a direct sales beef operation, a farm-accurate gifts store and a flower farm, all run by young, innovating Iowa farmers.

All three finalists — Beringer Family Farms Beef, Holland Flower Farm and Hungry Canyon Design — will compete later this month for cash prizes by pitching their businesses to attendees and judges at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Young Farmer Conference Jan. 28-29.

“The quality of applicants we had was amazing again this year,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “No matter who wins, each of these finalists are already winners because of the work they’re doing with their business.”

At Beringer Family Farms Beef, located near Cascade in Jones County, Lillie Beringer will celebrate her one-year anniversary as a business on Jan. 20, just before the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference.

Plenty of challenges

“There has been a lot of challenges over the last year, for sure,” Beringer said. “With all the punches thrown at me, I should not still be standing.”

She said although 2021 wasn't the ideal time to start a new business, thanks to the support of her family and her faith, she’s made it through and is now learning from last year’s challenges and working to expand the business.

Like many young farmers, Beringer also works off the farm as an animal nutritionist for Purina. This background helps her raise her Angus cattle to the highest standards. 

Between her own herd, which she has processed into individual cuts and sells online, and custom feeding for another farmer, Beringer has around 500 head on feed at all times.

In 2022, Beringer wants to continue to grow her direct-to-consumer beef sales and market beef online through her social media pages. Currently, she offers on-farm pick-up and ships beef boxes to all 50 states. She is also looking at adding a farm club subscription service for her beef boxes. 

She recently purchased her grandparents' farm, including about 120 acres of pastureland, where her herd grazes on a rotational system in the summer.

Beringer is also expanding her breeding operation to include fall and spring calving to provide a consistent flow of cattle to process and sell.

“I am really fortunate to live where I live and do what I do,” Beringer concluded.

A fresh face in flowers

At Holland Flower Farm in Sioux County, owner Jade Moret is also working to expand her business by adding a hoop house. 

“The hoop house would extend my growing season by two months or more,” she said. 

Moret noted that flower farming is something she is especially proud of as a single mother to a toddler. “I’m really passionate about [this work],” she said. 

Moret just completed her third growing season, offering retail cut flowers as well as a subscription service that delivers flowers to customers on a weekly or monthly basis.  

In 2021, she expanded the business to include part-time help on the farm, freeing her up to focus on marketing and business management.  

Her futures plans include selling flowers wholesale to local florists in northwest Iowa. 

(Photo above: Jade Moret of Sioux Center is working to expand Holland Flower Farm by adding a hoop building to lengthen her growing season. SUBMITTED PHOTO) 

Accurate ag reflections

Hungry Canyon Design of Woodbury County started out as a hobby and creative outlet for owner Melissa Nelson back in 2013. 

Since then, Nelson has gone from making print products like holiday cards that accurately reflect agriculture production to adding other gift items and a line a children’s clothing in bright colors to help little ones stay safe the farm.

“I wanted to make something that both men and women throughout the farm and ranch world could relate to,” she said. 

Nelson said she is proud to partner with local printers and designers for her business, with a special focus on young people starting out.

“I think it’s incredibly important to impart any knowledge I may have in my areas of expertise to another generation and love to work with these young people,” she said.

Nelson noted that any winnings from the Grow Your Future Award would go right back into the business. 

“This grant would allow me the opportunity to grow my business, and I am so excited about what [this means] for our family,” she said recently on her business’s Facebook page.

(Photo above: Melissa Nelson of Correctionville in Woodbury County started Hungry Canyon Design to sell greeting cards, gifts and clothing that accurately portray agriculture. SUBMITTED PHOTO)