Five finalists for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) 2024 Grow Your Future Award have been announced ahead of voting, which will be open to the public Dec. 4-10. The top three will compete for cash prizes in a pitch-off at the IFBF 2024 Young Farmer Conference in February.

The Grow Your Future Award, now in its fifth year, highlights businesses started by Iowa’s young farmers. Participants must be between 18 and 35 years of age. Finalists will encourage their customers and friends to vote online at in hopes of landing one of the top three spots.

“The Grow Your Future Award is not only a chance for young farmers to compete for funds to support their business, but it also showcases their hard work to a statewide audience — creating the chance for new customers and additional markets for their products,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, Iowa Farm Bureau farm business development manager.

2024 finalists
The 2024 final five include:

• Bobbi Jo Berg of Recipes from French Creek in Allamakee County creates and sells freezer meals using produce and meat raised by local farmers. She is at capacity with the number of orders she can take and has goals to build a commercial kitchen space, hire a full-time employee and market her meals nationwide.

• Paige McClure of Red Boar Ridge in Worth County manages an agritourism vacation rental on her family’s Century Farm, attracting guests from across the nation. She plans to open a second location to raise game birds and offer private pheasant hunting.

• Kate Van Manen of Van Manen Sweet Corn and Fresh Produce in Jasper County “married into” the sweet corn business and recently added pumpkins, mums and cut flowers. She wants to install air-conditioning and self-serve flower stations for customers.

• Ashley Wenke of Pleasant Grove Homestead in Poweshiek County sells farm-grown produce and meat from hogs and chickens through community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, farmers markets and cooperatives. To serve more community members, she wants to build a shed to wash, package and prepare food for market year-round.

• Carly Zierke of Sweet Season Farm in Winneshiek County grows vegetables and sells them through CSA subscriptions, farmers markets, cooperatives and local restaurants. She and her husband are in the process of moving their operation to a larger space that will provide room for washing, packing and a walk-in cooler.

Pitch off in February
All three finalists will receive cash prizes to grow their business with first place taking home $7,500, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500. “If you make it to the pitch-off, you’re guaranteed to win money,” Van Steenwyk said.

The pitch-off winners will be decided by a combination of judges’ scores and audience votes at the young farmer conference. Ahead of that, Van Steenwyk offers coaching and practice time to the finalists.

“We really want to set them up for success,” she said.

Previous winners include Reconnected Farms, Mud Ridge Ranch, H8R Acres, Beringer Family Farm Beef, Holland Flower Farm, Hungry Canyon, Iowa Cover Crop, Over the Moon Farm & Flowers, Farm Story Meats, Gym-N-Eat Crickets, New Day Dairy Bed & Breakfast and McGreal Family Farms.