Becoming a better Horticulturist through valuable experience

My name is Whitney Pokorny, and I am a junior at Iowa State University majoring in Horticulture with an emphasis in Food Crop Production and Management. My main interest is in farming vegetable crops. I come from a small town in Tama County where my family grows row crops. The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative (AgEI) provided me with the opportunity to have a summer internship at Nature Road Farm in Boone.

This farm is still quite young, having only been in production since 2009. In the beginning Nature Road Farm offered shares of weekly delivered vegetables and fruits to about thirty members, and since then have “grown” their business to accommodate around 100 members along with some local restaurants and businesses. Many different vegetables are grown here along with some fruits. During my internship I have had the pleasure of working with the owners of Nature Road Farm, Randy and Linda Naeve, as well as my coworker, Alex Hage.

My summer was spent assisting the Naeves with running their CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, and is a way for consumers to receive locally grown produce. This required me to work on the farm growing and processing vegetables, delivering to customers, and so much more. My internship has helped me to see one type of business that is focused around vegetable crops. Since this is what I aspire to do someday, it was good to see many different aspects of this horticulture business. It aided me in figuring out how I want to grow my vegetables if I have my own farm in the future and learn a whole lot along the way.

Much of the knowledge that I have gained from this experience is because of my two lovely bosses who have shared their wisdom and know-how with me. Linda and Randy both explained many of the aspects of their business and taught me tons of new skills to use in my own farming operation. Between Linda’s many years in horticulture extension at Iowa State University and Randy’s many years in marketing in the food industry I was given a very good overview of many of the things I will be required to know in the future, and it has made me a better horticulturist for the coming years.