Our Journey

We moved to Ames in 1987 to attend graduate school at Iowa State. We had both spent most of our previous lives in Minnesota. Upon moving to Iowa, we expected to find a cornucopia of fresh, local food in Farmer’s Markets and local grocery stores. After all, we had moved to the most farmed state in the union, a place with a growing season almost 2 months longer than northern Minnesota. So we embraced the longer season, starting with a garden in our back yard in Ames, then taking over the garden in a neighbor’s yard, and then another neighbor’s yard garden, then gardens out in the country wherever we could find some space.

Our Minnesota roots had guided us towards an expression of conservation by advancing preservation of old-growth forests and supporting restrictions of motorized vehicles in designated wilderness areas. In Iowa, we realized that a bigger environmental issue was the treatment of “working land.” Slowly the concepts of sustainable agriculture seeped into us and we saw that methods of agriculture had a much greater environmental impact than nearly any other human activity as a way to learn more about the practice and profitability of a friendlier agriculture.

Activities Related to Local Food

In 1996 we moved to our current location, a turn of the century farmstead with more outbuildings (7) than acres (6). We started selling vegetables and flowers at the Marshalltown Farmer’s market, planted berries and fruit trees. We called ourselves high hopes gardens. Later we started raising small numbers of lambs, chickens, and turkeys for sale. We took the "Growing Your Small Market Farm" nX Level entrepreneurial course which is giving us pause to evaluate where we'd like to be down the road.

Mark is a former member of the Board of Wholesome Harvest, and went on a trade mission to Japan in to explore markets for organic meat in Japan. Linda teaches Biology and makes sure to include information about local ecosystems, nutrition, and the benefits/risks of genetic engineering in her classes. She is embarking on a new program "Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Agriculture" at Marshalltown Community College.

Activities Outside of Local Food

As a volunteer grant writer Mark has compiled successful grants for the Story County Conservation Center, the Melbourne Public Library, and most recently a $100,000 Vision Iowa grant for the Nature Center at Grimes Farm, which is the headquarters of the Marshall County Conservation Board and a working farm demonstrating some conservation practices. We are active in church activities as well, attending the Unitarian Fellowship of Ames where Linda is on the Program Committee and Mark teaches Sunday school.

Hopes for Iowa's Local Food Movement

Our hopes for local foods include development of an infrastructure to support small farmers in acquiring supplies, sharing marketing opportunities, developing processing plants for both animal and vegetable products, and a way to connect farmers to each other, the land, and those who like to eat!

Why We Almost Changed our Name to "Angry Weasel Farm"

Early one spring season, about every third night, we would find a chicken dismembered in the hen house. It appeared to be the work of a weasel or mink. We thought of ways to catch the predator, without catching the chickens, talked to neighbors to see what they have done, and heard that one person had success putting a goose in with the chickens. We begged a goose from a neighbor, and since the arrival of the goose (and now a partner for the goose) we have not lost another hen to predation. We imagined the weasel/mink coming in for the next meal, only to be greeted by a hissing, honking goose! Thus the name "Angry Weasel" had a nice ring to it and story about working with nature, but in the end, kept our name the same.