October is Pork Month, a great excuse to add a couple strips of bacon to your tailgate burger (as if you needed one). But Pork Month is about more than the product that ends up on your plate, or bun, especially for Iowa’s farm families.

Raising pigs and growing corn and soybeans is a way of life for Bruce and Jenny Wessling in Grand Junction. Along with producing quality pork and grain comes great responsibility to protect the environment.

“We’re living the way of life we believe in,” Jenny says.

The family has been recognized with both a state and a national award recognizing their efforts to protect their land and water resources.

“It’s an honor to get awarded the awards, but we’re raising our children here and so we want to do things right and help keep the environment in good shape for our future generations,” Bruce explains.

Maintaining soil and water quality is a high priority for the Wessling family. They use terraces and grass waterways and have established buffer strips along creeks to reduce soil erosion and runoff from their crop acres. These practices, along with the tree buffer, also provide a home to wildlife.

The family worked with professionals to learn about how trees and shrubs could positively impact their farm site. Four rows of trees on the north side of their pig buildings are not only beautiful, but they also help reduce odor on the farm and provide additional habitat.

The Wessling family is just one of thousands of families in the state working to improve the land and water for the next generation. For more information about the Wessling family farm, go to http://video.pork.org/video/2014-environmental-stewards-wessling-ag.

By Bethany Baratta. Bethany is Iowa Farm Bureau’s commodities writer.