Kate Edwards started sharing her story with the FarmHer seven years ago. Fast forward to today, and in some ways, so much has changed, and in others, not much at all has changed. Her farm, Wild Woods Farm, has relocated, not just once, but twice. She is now married and is not renting land any more. Seven years later, her farm is the largest community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in the state of Iowa that spans 30 crops and 150 varieties. Kate’s belief in regeneration of agriculture provides the ultimate farm-to-family experience for her Iowa City community.
Farm Kid at Heart
Kate Edwards’ grass roots in Iowa agriculture trace back to childhood. Growing up, she loved visiting her grandparent’s farm and dreamed of being a “farm kid.” After college, Kate pursued a career in engineering, but at the core just wasn’t satisfied. Despite her grandmother’s advice to stay away from farming, Kate jumped in with both feet. She moved to Iowa and spent a summer with family to learn more about the industry she wanted to be in. Kate learned how to drive a tractor and grow a large garden, and the rest is history.
The early days of Wild Woods Farm weren’t the easiest for Kate, but she learned a lot of lessons. She expanded her acreage, found a great mentor to help her through the process, and connected with others through farm organizations such as Practical Farmers of Iowa. Over time, Kate’s customer base has expanded to over 200 families and a growing wait list. She continues to perfect her craft, while always learning. Today, she has grown her team to help on the farm, which includes her husband, who helps when he isn’t working at his off-farm full-time job.
What is a CSA?
Kate landed on the CSA concept because of the low overhead needed. But what exactly is a CSA? Community supported agriculture is a way for Wild Wood Farm to raised food directly for their local community. CSAs distributes products straight through various methods like subscription boxes at Wild Wood. Like all farmers, farmers in CSAs commit to grow under a transparent set of practices to provide fresh seasonal food. The consumer commits to partner in the farming operation by committing to a full season of food, and the risks and costs associated with.
Farm Heaven in Iowa
As we drove down the long driveway and into the shaded yard of the farmhouse and barn, we were instantly in awe of Kate’s new location. It was a little slice of heaven! After quick hellos, we went straight to the field where a crew was finishing up harvest, working hard to beat the spring heat that arrived a bit too early. Once they were done, Kate had some cultivating work to do on her bigger tractor in that same field.
We ventured up to the greenhouse where they start all of the seeds planted on the farm. They start them in waves in the greenhouse, and transplant them out to the field throughout the season. This allows them to have produce for their customers for as long as possible.
The Iconic Tractor
Next up, Kate hopped on another tractor, one that is definitely remembered from our first visit to Wild Woods Farm. This tractor is an old Alice Chalmers B. We took a picture of Kate on that tractor during our first visit to her farm and have used that picture so much! It has graced billboards, magazine covers, and even the side of the FarmHer trailer! Just as Kate’s farm has grown and changed over the years, so has our photography abilities and equipment!
Fresh from the Field
We made a stop to check garlic in the field and harvest one stalk. We then harvested some chinese cabbage from a field back up near the barn. There she showed me the basics of washing and the best methods to keep the produce fresh once it has been picked. The key is washing it with just water (no special cleaners needed), then drying it and getting it cold!.
Our day with Kate was wonderful. It is so gratifying to see firsthand how she has grown and changed, and also to see that she is still growing strong. Farming is hard work, and is not for the faint of heart. Kate has the heart and soul of a FarmHer. Seeing her live out her dream and share fresh food with her community has been a memorable journey.
Go behind the scenes of our visit to Wild Woods Farm in this episode of FarmHer On the Road: Iowa Veggie Farm Finds.