EXIRA — Exira’s Brun Ko Farm was among 13 Iowa farmers, businesses and nonprofits sharing nearly $250,000 in grants from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig announced the grants — designed to expand markets and help sell Iowa-grown produce — last week.
Emily and Nathan Paulsen own the farm, which produces over 40 different varieties of vegetables on a relatively small scale, including broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, salad turnips, snow peas, green beans, sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and zucchini. , squash, potatoes, strawberries, herbs, microgreens and more. They also have pasture-raised beef and pork, as well as honey.
Brun Ko Farm received $15,000, which will be used to renovate an existing building for washing and packing vegetables. The total cost of the project is $30,000.
“We are honored to have been selected to receive the Choose Iowa grant. We will use the funds to add a pack shed and cold storage space to our farm so we can grow more vegetables for all of you,” wrote they stated.
“We will have an indoor facility to wash all the vegetables we grow,” she said, “as well as more space to store them as well.” She said there were plans to install a walk-in cooler to help as well.
Other plans include having an elevated tunnel in place by late 2022 or 2023 to allow them to start growing earlier in the spring and harvest later in the season.
Some plants can handle the cold, but if they were washed outside in the cold, they would freeze. Having indoor washing facilities will be a big help when growing in cold weather.
Emily said she had hope when she prepared the grant application and then learned that many applications had been submitted.
“It’s a real honor to be selected from this crowd of applicants,” she said.
Although they have not yet received the contracts, she hopes work can begin this summer, for the next growing season.
She also said she appreciates that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is investing in small farms.
“Often small farms get overlooked,” she said, “the pattern seems to be ‘get big or get out’.”
Brun Ko Farm sells in several markets in the region. They will be at Produce in the Park from June through September, but will also have on-farm pickup for purchases, by appointment, and buyers can order online through FarmTable Procurement and Delivery, with pickups in Harlan.
“Iowa agriculture is the envy of the world as our farmers continue to lead the way in producing healthy, high-quality, affordable food. It’s critical that consumers have access to the Iowa-grown produce they know and love,” said Secretary Naig. “The Choose Iowa grant program makes this possible through value-added projects that help Iowans grow their businesses and access new markets. I am proud to invest in these projects that continue to position Iowa as one of the best places to grow, today and in the future.
Other grants ranged from just over $5,000 to $25,000, for projects like improving access to online meat marketing; improved transportation methods for a flower business; to increase production and sales of apple-based beverages and begin on-farm cheese processing.
Email Laura Bacon at [email protected]
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