Vote for Iowa Farm Bureau's next 'Grow Your Future' Award winner
The decision of who will compete for the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Grow Your Future Award and its $7,500 grand prize is now in the public’s hands.
This competition, open to farmer-entrepreneurs ages 18-35, focuses on niche agricultural products, specialty services and agritourism. Five contestants have been selected and will be narrowed through online voting, Dec. 4-10.
The three farmers with the most votes will advance to a pitch-off during the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference, Feb. 2. The grand prize winner will take home $7,500, and second and third place winners receive $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.
Contestants in the voting round 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 how many 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, which attracts travelers from across the nation. She plans to restore an 1850s log cabin purchased by her fifth generation grandfather to give guests an additional, unique lodging experience.
- Kate Van Manen of Van Manen Sweet Corn & Fresh Produce in Jasper County “married into” the sweet corn business, and recently added to the family farm portfolio with pumpkins, mums and cut flowers. She wants to provide air-conditioned, self-serve flower stations for customers during summer months.
- 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, they want 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. Her and her husband are in the process of moving their operation, and with the larger space have need for a wash, pack and walk-in cooler.
“Iowa Farm Bureau has a long history of helping rural entrepreneurs advance their small businesses,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson. “High input costs and limited land availability pose significant challenges for today's young farmers, yet they are demonstrating remarkable innovation and creativity in finding alternative avenues that add value to their family farms while strengthening their rural communities. They're forging partnerships with retailers and restaurants, tapping into direct-to-consumer markets and redefining farms as destinations to offer unique products and experiences. The Grow Your Future award is just one way we highlight and reward these young farmer entrepreneurs.”
The public may vote for their favorite business at www.iowafarmbureau.com/growvote.
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