By Kendra Meyer–Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
AMES, Iowa – Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Recognizing the value of this segment of agriculture, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has designated June 22-26 as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week.
“Designating an Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week is a significant event, as it celebrates the important role fruits and vegetables play in our individual health and nutrition and the commercial fruit and vegetable industry in our state,” said Ajay Nair, associate professor and extension vegetable production specialist with Iowa State University.
The Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association represents producers statewide, supporting grower education and consumer outreach. President Luke Funk owns and operates Hilltop Farms Produce near Dallas Center.
“When you buy fruits and vegetables grown in Iowa, you know they’re local,” Funk said. “It also allows local family farms to have a viable income in horticulture.”
The governor’s proclamation included the request that, “local Iowa fruit and vegetable producers receive support and recognition for their achievements by celebrating this week across Iowa.”
The most recent statewide survey of commercial horticulture production in Iowa, released in 2017, showed that the top five crops in 2015 were tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, green beans, and winter squash. More than 1,000 farms statewide grow vegetables and an equal number grow fruits, according to the most recent U.S. agricultural census (2017).
Producers can learn more about specialty crop production by watching the Iowa Vegetable Production and Management YouTube videos produced by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, or by visiting the Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development program online.
IFVGA and other organizations, including ISU Extension and Outreach, plan to promote the event through social media outreach and other channels. For information and outreach materials, contact Kendra Meyer at 515-294-9483 or [email protected]u.