Let’s Grow Together!

Guest blog post by Kelly Visser, Iowa Food & Family Project Communications Program Coordinator

Let's Grow Together_1

Mark Jackson and Jeff Lanphier discuss the similarities of growing food in a garden and in a field.

Gardeners and farmers are gearing up for planting season. Whether using a trowel in a backyard garden or a 12-row planter in a field, working in the dirt can spark ingenuity and inspire an intense appreciation for where food really comes from.

Throughout the growing season, the Iowa Food & Family Project is teaming up with Earl May Garden & Nursery Center to connect Iowans though the “Let’s Grow Together” program. The program inspires Iowans to try their hand at food and flower gardening, while also learning the many similarities gardening has with farming, through blogs, videos and gardening prizes.

“Let’s Grow Together” showcases conversations between Mark Jackson, a grain and livestock farmer from Mahaska County, and Jeff Lanphier, an Earl May garden expert. Together they discuss how conservation efforts for the soil and water, managing pests and preventing disease are top priorities for both farmers and gardeners.

“Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population farms. Gardening is a connection to farming because it’s the same cut of cloth as agriculture,” says Mark.

The Streck family envisions their flower garden at Earl May.

The Streck family envisions their flower garden at Earl May.

Whether you’re a novice gardener or a multi-generation farmer, Iowans of all skill levels are invited to get involved. Visit www.iowafoodandfamily.com/programs/grow-together to learn more.

A Glimpse into Farm Life

Did you know the average American is at least three generations removed from the farm? To help bring farm life to Iowans who don’t have direct connections or experiences on the farm, the Iowa Food & Family Project has teamed up with Darcy Maulsby, a grain farmer, author and award-winning cook in Calhoun County, to author a Farm Life Journal blog series.

In this monthly journal series, Darcy provides insights on the day-to-day life of modern agriculture. She also shares her tried-and-true recipes, as well as captures the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that can only be viewed from the tractor cab. Her heartfelt entries provide an intimate perspective on the challenges and joys of farming in Iowa, giving readers a personal connection to the fields they may drive by each day.

FLJ Sunrise

Darcy Maulsby captures the beauty of farm life in her blog series.

The glimpse into farm life is shared with more than 100,000 Iowans each month through the Iowa Food & Family Project’s Fresh Pickings newsletter and social media channels.

Visit www.iowafoodandfamily.com/farming/bio/darcy-maulsby to learn more about Darcy and read her latest Farm Life Journal blog posts.


Celebrate April, which is National Soyfoods Month


Celebrate National Soyfoods Month with this tasty grilled chicken entrée and soybean salad from The Soyfoods Council.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Servings: 4


  • ½ cup cherry jam
  • 2 tablespoons red jalapeno jam
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soybean oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon minced chives
  • 1½ cups trimmed, cooked haricot verts (or regular green beans)
  • ¾ cup canned tan soybeans
  • ¾ cup cooked edamame
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 8 chicken thighs


  1. Combine the first three ingredients, plus ⅛ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper in a saucepan and cook until mixture is a thin, syrupy consistency. Let cool.
  2. Combine the next six ingredients in a large bowl; add the beans and shallots and toss well.
  3. Season the chicken with ⅛ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Grill over charcoal to desired doneness. Place chicken on bean salad, drizzle with cherry syrup.

Nutrition per serving: 677 Calories, 37g Total Fat, 158mg Cholesterol, 343mg Sodium, 45g Carbohydrate, 5.5g Fiber, 42g Protein

About the Iowa Food & Family Project

The Iowa Food & Family Project is powered by more than 30 partners, including Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, with a goal to help Iowans feel more confident about how and where their food is grown. For more information, please visit iowafoodandfamily.com.