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Old Ways, New Faces (2)


Sowing Community

Andrew Dunham’s path to farming recalls a truism from one of Sarah Orne Jewett’s letters to fellow American writer Willa Cather: “One must know the world . . . before one can know the parish.”

Valedictorian of his high school class, Andrew graduated with a degree in ecology from Iowa State University, hoping to become a veterinarian like his father.

After studying abroad for a semester in Kenya and another in Scotland, he enlisted in the Peace Corps and was assigned to Tanzania, where he worked as an agricultural extension officer with subsistence farmers, growing vegetables on a one-acre plot and transporting chicken vaccines by bicycle to rural villages to fight outbreaks of Newcastle disease.

Andrew’s experience in East Africa transformed both his own future and that of his grandfather’s farm in Grinnell, long custom-farmed by neighbors for row-crop commodities.

(Read more Old Ways, New Faces)

Grinnell Heritage Farm’s Andrew and Melissa Dunham (right, with daughter Emma) represent
an expanding community of young Iowa farmers — the Next Generation.

Potent Paperwork

Meticulous bookkeeping is essential to maintaining Grinnell Heritage Farm’s organic certification and positions the farm strategically for grant applications. According to Andrew Larson, small farm sustainability specialist with Iowa State University Extension, such record keeping represents a “potential weapon” for other small farmers in making informed decisions about how to change their operations from year to year and how to leverage a farm’s history as an asset while seeking outside funding for its future.

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