Lanehaven Farms Strives to Sustain Resources for Generations to Come

Sally Head ShotDecember brings back fond childhood memories of sleigh rides across the snow-covered farm fields in Northwest Iowa for Sally Hollis of Lanehaven Farms.  Her grandfather was a corn and soybean grower, who enjoyed raising Belgian and Percheron horses as a hobby.

“While I grew up with some farming background, I definitely would not have guessed I would be a farmer when I graduated from high school,” said Sally, who earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of Northern Iowa.  She worked the past 15 years for Deere & Company in a variety of roles in Operations, Supply Management, Quality and Systems/Processes.  Her most recent role was Business Unit Manager for the Cab Operations at Waterloo’s Tractor, Cab & Assembly Operations.

Sally took an official leave of absence last year from Deere & Company.  Today she puts her engineering background and John Deere experience to work on their family farm, sharing her knowledge of operations, systems and management.  She’s standardizing processes and leading a large project to switch accounting systems effective January 1.  She also works on landlord relations, human resources and website maintenance.

Meanwhile, Blake and his father have day-to-day responsibilities for the crop and hog operations.  They take care of the marketing, equipment purchases, insurance, customer relations and community relations.

“I am learning so many new things about agriculture that I find extremely interesting and exciting.  I cherish the wonderful opportunity I have to work with my family on a daily basis,” says Sally, whose husband, Blake, is the third generation to operate Lanehaven Farms.

Blake’s grandfather, Gordon Hollis, started the farm in 1947 as a dairy and crop operation.  Because the home farm has a long lane and he thought of it as a place of refuge, Gorden name it Lanehaven.

Hollis-FamilyOne reason Lavehaven Farms has been successful for more than 65 years and through three generations is because the Hollis family embraces leading edge practices while standardizing processes and focusing on continuous improvement.  One example of their stewardship and progressiveness is the first denitrifying bioreactor that was installed last month.

“We work to passionately protect and sustain resources for future generations,” says Sally.

“That’s how my husband’s grandparents and then his parents operated it.  Now we are focused on what we must do for our business to remain strong for the next generation.  We will strive for business excellence today and quickly adopt future technologies, processes and businesses to continue to improve the business for years to come.”

Sally and Blake are the proud parents of two sons, 12-year-old Thatcher and 10-year-old Chase.  Both boys enjoy sports, music, farming and spending time with their friends.  They also compete on a FIRST Lego League/robotics team, which their mom has coached for the past three years.  In fact, their Lego League team is competing this weekend in the regional qualifier.

sally-quote“None of us get to where we are without having been recipients of others generosity such as our parents, teachers, mentors, friends, and others,” says Sally.  “Because of the generosity I have received from others, I feel part of my purpose in life is to be generous and help others.”  In addition to Lego League, Sally is active in a number of community organizations.  She serves on the Waterloo School Foundation Board and as an advisor on the McElroy Trust.  She and her husband also active in their church as small group leaders and marriage mentors.

In her free time, Sally enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising and cooking.  Today she is sharing one of her favorite pork recipes, which comes from a cookbook developed by a committee on which she served for the area Junior League.  Lanehaven Farms has produced pork for more than 40 years, so today’s recipe is a fitting way to promote the product they raise.  Spice up the holiday season with Pesto Pork Chops!

Pesto Pork Chops


Spicy Rub:

  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Pork Chops:

  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 (1 ¼-inch) pork loin chops or boneless pork loin chops

Jalapeño Pesto Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar



  1. For the rub, crush the celery seeds, fennel seeds and thyme in a small bowl. Add the garlic, cumin, black pepper and red pepper and mix well.
  2. For the pork chops, combine the cheese, pesto and pine nuts in a small bowl and mix well.  Trim the fat from the pork.  Cut pockets in the pork chops, slicing horizontally from the outer edge almost to the bone.  Spoon the cheese mixture into the pockets and secure the cut sides with wooden picks.  Coat evenly with the rub.
  3. For the glaze, melt the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir in the pesto and vinegar and cook until heated through.
  4. To grill, heat coals to medium and arrange around a drip pan.  Place the pork chops on a rack over the drip pan.  Grill, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until the juices run clear, basting occasionally with the glaze during the last 10 minutes of grilling time.  Garnish with basil leaves.


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