Chris Deal says he always wanted to move back to his hometown of Jefferson and raise his family on an Iowa farm.

“I know from my own experience that growing up on an orchard is the coolest when you’re a kid,” says Deal, a father of three and a Greene County Farm Bureau member.

Deal and his brother, Benji, both moved back to Jefferson to help manage their family’s Century Farm, Deal’s Orchard. Prior to working full-time on the farm, Benji was a high school math teacher. Chris is a mechanical engineer who telecommutes for his job based in Des Moines, allowing him to help manage the orchard on the side.

Since moving back to Jefferson two years ago, Chris Deal has worked to bring a software development company, called The Forge, to downtown Jefferson. The Forge plans to partner with Greene County High School to train students so they can work at the software company in Jefferson after graduation.

“Our community has tried to create an environment to bring people back,” Deal says. “And we think it’s a scalable model for other rural communities.”

Deal will share Jefferson’s success story during a rural development panel discussion at the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting Dec. 4 in Des Moines.

He will also explain how his family is continuing to grow Deal's Orchard for the next generation. Benji launched a hard cider business, and now Deal's Orchard hard cider is available in Des Moines taprooms and at the orchard.

For more information about Deal's Orchard, including upcoming holiday events, visit