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Aug 16, 2023

Jul 31, 2023

Knob Hill Farm: “Since 2013, Mike and Janine Robertson have been transforming Knob Hill Farm into the picturesque certified organic farm that it is today.

A handful of inventive Hamilton County entrepreneurs are about to help put this place on a new kind of map: an organic agriculture map.

They’ll do it by participating in something cooked up in Cindy McCollough’s brain. McCollough, who owns Bluestem Organic Feed Mill near Stratford, had the idea for a tour from one organic ag site to another.

In an air-conditioned bus.

With an organic meal thrown in.

Thus was born the Farm Crawl, a bus tour through this county organized by the Iowa Organic Association.

“So often we don’t realize what is in our own backyards,” said McCollough, who is an IOA board member. “We have so much right here in Hamilton County and we just don’t take advantage of it like we could.”

The tour is Sunday, Aug. 6, from 1 to 7 p.m. It starts and ends at Backcountry Winery & Brewery in Stratford with multiple stops in between

There’s still time to get a seat on that bus. Tickets are $40 for IOA members and $50 for non-members. The deadline to register is Friday.

“This guided bus tour offers a one-of-a-kind experience to visit several successful organic and regenerative farming businesses,” said Erika Otto, IOA Education and Outreach coordinator.

“Each host brings their own unique blend and flavorful piece to the landscape while incorporating practices that preserve the farm, improve soil health, protect our natural resources and provide goods and services that meet the needs of the community.”

Here’s the tour rundown:

. Backcountry Winery & Brewery: “In 2014 Preston and Amber Gable set out to pursue their passion of wine-making, brewing craft beers, and coordinating specially curated experiences for guests and the community in their renovated 1920’s-era barn. The Gables have also integrated organic pasture-raised chickens that are available to purchase through their CSA. The chickens are used to graze grass and clover, hunt for bugs, and provide valuable fertilizer for the vineyard. ‘Selling the experience is crucial for so many farms or value-added businesses’, said Amber at Backcountry, ‘and this Farm Crawl is a great opportunity to connect our community to producers and products found in Hamilton County.'”

. Bluestem Organic Feed Mill: “Cindy McCollough pioneered one of the first organic feed mills in Iowa back in 2004 and has been building connections between growers and livestock producers in Central Iowa ever-since. Located in the heart of Iowa’s finest farmland, she sources non-GMO certified organic grain from farmers in the region to produce a variety of poultry and livestock feeds and seed; she works with her customers year-round to source and meet their individual ration needs.”

. Knob Hill Farm: “Since 2013, Mike and Janine Robertson have been transforming Knob Hill Farm into the picturesque certified organic farm that it is today. The Robertson’s produce Berkshire-cross hogs, laying hens, and a garden full of market fruit and vegetables. Knob Hill Farm products are non-GMO and raised without antibiotics, toxic pesticides, or added hormones. The farm is designed so that livestock facilities exceed the space and outdoor access requirements for organic certification. They sell their organic goods at farmers markets, food cooperatives, and by local delivery.”

. Bluestem Prairie Farm: “Bridget Chambers is one of the few certified organic hemp growers in Iowa. When she’s not assisting the Iowa Attorney General, her crew of family and friends grow organic non-GMO hemp on the small farm that has been in their family since 1876. They cultivate, harvest, and dry the hemp (by hand) to produce the highest quality CBD-rich hemp possible. Bridget is committed to conservation practices and incorporates restored native prairie grasses, wildflowers, and waterways that enriches the farmland in harmony with the bees, butterflies, birds and abundant wildlife found on the farm. Bluestem offers an array of organic CBD products produced from the farm include gummies, oils, balms and gel capsules.”

Lost Lake Farm: “Kevin and Ranae Deitzel, PhD, have been making award-winning artisan farmstead cheese on their grass-based dairy farm since 2016. In addition to their 20 beautiful grass-fed cows, they also raise whey-fed hogs, and offer ‘txuleton’ beef. The Lost Lake Farm name is an ode to old Lake Cairo that existed just south of the farm over a century ago. The Dietzels strive to continuously improve upon that very land with practices that meet their own rigorous regenerative and ecological farming standards. ‘We are passionate about community and love to see how our farm contributes to the revitalization of rural Iowa,’ said Ranae.”

. The Bakin’ Diner: “Chef Staci Steinlicht at the Bakin’ Diner in Stratford will curate the farm-to-table connection by using organic and local ingredients from the very farms you’ll be visiting.”

For more information or to register for the Farm Crawl Bus Tour, please visit or contact Erika Otto, Education and Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected],

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