The Story of Our Farm
Harvestville Farm is part of a 5th generation family farm located in southeast Iowa. We strive to be an ecologically friendly farm and firmly believe in being good stewards of the land. Our mission is to provide a fun, safe, educationally based rural experience for families by offering unique hands-on agricultural related activities, while also providing our freshest veggies, homegrown pumpkins, squash, and gourds, and offering all the trimmings for your home and family during the holidays.
Our family "agri-tainment" business began evolving in 2004 with our passion for pumpkins! Back in 1994, Adam started a small FFA project for school, by raising a few pumpkins. He grew two or three rows each year, and every fall we put a wagon of those pumpkins out by the highway with an honor system jar for payment. When Adam went on to college, his sister, Amber, continued the tradition for a few more years.
When both children left the “nest”, Greg and Kathy continued their diversified farm operation of corn, beans, hogs, and cattle, but always had fond memories of those “pumpkin years”. In 2003, after three neck surgeries, Greg needed to eliminate the livestock chores from his daily life. Our thoughts returned to pumpkins, and in 2004 we planted 5 acres and sold them from our farmstead. We were hooked!
Within two years Adam returned with his wife, Julie, after living in St. Louis for several years, to help the farm and "pumpkin business" grow. Throughout these past several years, Amber offers her support and graphic arts assistance as she attends grad-school, and Jacob and Addison, Adam and Julie's son and daughter, are our number one “testers” of new games and adventures.
Today we have expanded from a fall focused business, into a year round operation. During the spring/summer we sell fresh veggies and manage our CSA program, have over 40 acres of pumpkins, squash, and gourds during the fall, and have the freshest tress and trimmings for your home during the holidays, all while providing families with an authentic rural experience.
Planting and Harvesting
Our “planning” for the planting season begins in November and December of the previous year. All summer veggie seeds and pumpkin seeds are ordered by the 2nd week of January to ensure that we receive the varieties that best fit our soils and climate. Our commercial seed catalogues come about the end of October, and even though we may be picking the last of the pumpkins and squash, we must begin researching new varieties for the following year. Thousands of seeds begin arriving the first of February, and for several weeks it’s just like Christmas when the UPS truck pulls into the driveway! All orders must be verified, and then the sorting begins! Pumpkins—small, medium, and large. Treated seeds and untreated seeds. Heirloom squash seeds must be separated from hybrid seeds. FarMore treated seeds must be separated from traditional seeds. Gourds are sorted according to size and variety, and the planting maps are begun.
In the meantime, all the early veggie seeds travel to the greenhouse where they are germed and started in seed flats. Tiny seedlings must be transplanted into larger cells in order to be ready for transplanting into the garden after the danger of frost is past. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Romaine lettuce, chard, bok choi, pac choi, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes are all transplanted into the garden. The rest of the vegetables are seeded directly into the soil. We have a small push seeder to seed the beans, radish, beets, etc., but the rest are all still transplanted by hand into rows of plastic mulch. The transplants that go into the plastic mulch have a drip irrigation strip that runs down the center of the plastic, so if Mother Nature does not cooperate with enough rain, we can irrigate those more water sensitive crops. We hope to always begin harvest by mid-May, and continue 2nd, 3rd, and 4th plantings through the middle of July. Our sweet corn is planted conventionally in a larger field. Throughout the summer, our hand hoe remains our best friend!
After the early veggies are in the ground, our family, with the help of some close friends, begins planting for our fall harvest. This year we added 25 new varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, which brings our total number of varieties to 175. We believe that our harvest barn has one of the largest produce selections in Iowa!
What used to be planted by hand is now seeded in the ground with a planter that was designed by Greg. With over 40 acres of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, it sure makes our planting a bit easier and much faster!
As soon as seeds are planted in the ground, our fields and gardens are constantly monitored for growth, weed control, and any signs of possible disease. Integrated pest management techniques are used meaning pesticides are used minimally and only when a specific crop is affected. Our soils are tested annually and fertilizer is used in specific amounts for the crop needs. Cover crops are also used for rotation as well as conservation measures. We find these methods to be the safest for the environment. Each year our crops require several hundred hours of hand hoeing. In addition to all of the hard work, we rely on Mother Nature to give us enough rain and sunshine for a beautiful crop.
By June, our squash and pumpkin crops are on their way with lengthy vines and beautiful yellow and white flowers. To help with the pollination process, we bring in bees from local beekeepers. We strive to have one bee hive per acre. Each hive contains between 40,000 – 45,000 bees. Without the bees help, we would only have a fraction of the produce we harvest each year.
After pollination occurs, the pumpkins/squash start growing. 45 days later, some of our first product is ready to be picked. Other varieties require 125 days to mature. All 40 acres of pumpkins, squash, and gourds are hand picked and washed.
We invite you to our farm to see our fields and gardens and visit with us about our growing season.