Labor4Learning: Teaching next generation of Iowa farmers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Labor4Learning: Teaching next generation of Iowa farmers

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WINNESHIEK COUNTY (KWWL) -

A number of farms across Iowa will be doing quite a bit more than planting, harvesting and maintaining.

This season, 14 farmers have signed up to mentor as part of a program called Labor4Learning.

It's put on by Practical Farmers of Iowa, and aims to help train the next generation of Iowa's farmers in everything in takes to start their own farm.

"It's intimidating to start farming, like any business. And there's so much you need to know. And you can figure it out with a lot of stumbles, but if you've got some background from another helpful farmer or maybe several over the years, I think that makes a huge difference," said Erik Sessions, owner of Patchwork Green Farm just outside of Decorah.

Those farmers don't just hire help for the summer, they mentor them in everything that is farm life, including the business side of things.

Clara Muggli-Toyloy is one of his two hired hands for the summer, and is looking forward to learning the ins-and-outs of a farm.

"I was just interested in getting that added element of education, as well as the job. So just exploring if farming might be something I'd go into," she said.

She says what she learns this summer will help her decide if she'll make the transition from landscaping to farming.

"The business angle, I think, is really important. That could help me decide whether or not it's for me," she said.

That inside look at starting a farm helped Emily Fagan start her own farm. She was with Sessions last year at Patchwork Green Farm, and now has started her own in Decorah.

"It's different from just being his worker for the season. I got to ask all the questions, and figure out details about starting your own farm and all the different facets about it," Fagan said.

For Sessions, being part of the program means not only having help for the summer, but spending a significant amount of time teaching.

"This is an agricultural state, and like I said, there's a big body of knowledge out there, but unless it's shared person to person, a lot of that knowledge could get lost," he said.

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