May 28, 2020
Virtual field days in Iowa to explore farm operations

Emma and Marcus Johnson, of Buffalo Ridge Orchard in Central City, Iowa, will host a virtual field day with Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) exploring food safety and packhouse sanitation on Tuesday, June 2, from 12:30-1:05 p.m.

The event – “Keeping Up With the Johnsons at Buffalo Ridge Orchard – Food Safety and Packhouse Sanitation” – is free to attend and will take place on Facebook Live. To join in, visit and click the link found on the page for this event.

You do not need to be a PFI member or have a Facebook account to participate – but those without an account will not be able to comment or ask questions.

The field day is the first of a three-part series exploring different facets of the Johnsons’ orchard and vegetable production practices.

Emma and Marcus operate Buffalo Ridge Orchard with Emma’s parents, Mary and Vernon Zahradnik. The 80-acre farm has 5 acres of diversified vegetables in the field and high tunnels, and 13 acres of orchard. Their packhouse, completed in 2019, includes a farm store, opening this year, and a processing and packaging area for dried apples.

During the June 2 field day, guests will learn about the family’s new packhouse procedures for food and employee safety with vegetable crops. Emma and Marcus will discuss their enhanced practices for COVID-19; sanitizing and food safety procedures; and collaborative box packing and distribution.

The other events in the series will take place:

·        July 28, during which Emma will take guests on a virtual tour of the farm’s cherry tomatoes growing in the high tunnel and discuss tomato transplanting, trellising and pruning, harvest and varieties.

·        Sept. 22, during which the Johnsons will share how they test and determine when different apple varieties are ready to be picked.

Guests are welcome to attend all events in the series, or pick the ones they’re most interested in. Details about all three field days are available at

The events are part of Practical Farmers’ 2020 field day season, which includes more than 60 virtual events hosted by farmers located across the state, and beyond, on topics spanning the agricultural spectrum.

Practical Farmers’ 2020 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Barn2Door, Inc.; Bio Till; Center for Rural Affairs; Conservation Districts of Iowa; Gandy Company; Grain Millers Inc.; Farm Power Implements; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; Iowa Sustainable Ag Research and Education; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health; KWS Cereals; La Crosse Seed; [email protected]; Niman Ranch; Organic Valley – CROPP Cooperative – Organic Prairie; Pipeline Foods; Prairie Creek Seed; Scoular; Sunderman Farm Management Co.; Trees Forever; USDA-NRCS; and Welter Seed & Honey Company.

Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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