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Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2013 fall farminar series starts Nov. 5

Series spans topics from insuring apple orchards to vegetable and livestock production

Harvest is winding down, another growing season is nearing its end – and Practical Farmers of Iowa has set its 2013 fall farminar schedule. This free online seminar series is offered each autumn to help farmers learn about business and production issues that matter to them from the convenience of their homes.

The interactive webinars – called farminars – occur each Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, from Nov. 5 through Dec. 10, except for Thanksgiving week, and are open to everyone. Any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate. Most farminars are led by farmers, and many are presented in a “fish-bowl” format, where attendees listen as an experienced farmer answers a beginning farmer’s questions. Farminars air live online and allow participants to ask questions of presenters in real-time.

Topics featured this season include: insuring apple orchards; efficient marketing and distribution of local foods; tools and systems for improving vegetable transplant production; improving the profit-potential of grass-based livestock; and building relationships to improve vegetable crop marketing. Practical Farmers will also produce a day-time series focused on row crops and winter farminar evening series.

To participate: Go to, click the link to connect and sign in as “Guest.” Pre-registration is not required, but those who register will receive reminder emails one week and one day in advance. All upcoming and archived farminars, as well as free audio podcasts of past farminars, are also available at this link.

The first farminar of the season – “Crop Insurance by Written Agreement for Apple Orchards in Iowa” – will be Nov. 5, and should be of interest to farmers growing specialty crops, since these crops are difficult to insure in Iowa. Phil Larabee, licensed insurance agent in Cedar Rapids, will discuss the fundamentals of how crop insurance works and how he managed to insure his family’s 3.5-acre apple orchard near Sabula.

“I tell other Iowa apple growers that we have our orchard crop insured, and they tell me they didn’t think you could do that in Iowa,” Phil says. “I’m here to share what we have done and how we cover our basic expenses in the event of a crop loss – and hopefully take away some of the stress and anxiety for other apple farmers.”

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2013 fall farminars are made possible with funding from Ag Ventures Alliance, Grain Millers, John Deere, 211 individual donors to the “100 Days, 100 Beginners” fundraising campaign, Farm Credit Services of America, CERES and The Cedar Tree Foundation.