Practical Farmers of Iowa has exceeded its $75,000 goal for the "100 Days, 100 Beginners" campaign, allowing the organization to serve the 1,500 beginning farmers in its network with robust programming for 2014 and beyond.

"We are so pleased with the response," says Executive Director Teresa Opheim. "Two hundred twenty-six people contributed in amounts ranging from $15 to $10,000—and more is coming in all the time. The show of support for beginning farmers and for this organization has been heart-warming."

The successful fundraising effort will allow Practical Farmers to match beginners with farmer mentors and offer "farminars" (webinars), retreats and field days specifically tailored for them. In addition, Practical Farmers will be able to continue to offer a website matching landowners with those beginners seeking farmland (www.findafarmer.net), and a popular Savings Incentive Program (SIP) for beginning farmers. Enrollees in SIP develop or fine-tune a business plan, meet with a mentor and attend Practical Farmers events to help build their community of support. At the end of the two-year program, their savings are matched, up to $2,400, to purchase a farm asset.

Practical Farmers’ beginning farmer programming is very popular. According to Julie Slocum, who just started farming near Boone: "I don’t know if I’d be pursuing this farming dream if I hadn’t met Practical Farmers." Jordan Scheibel, who farms near Grinnell, adds: "I feel much stronger with Practical Farmers behind me. I can’t say enough for what this organization has done for me."

Among the larger contributors to the 100 Days, 100 Beginners campaign was Grain Millers, Inc., a leading supplier and manufacturer of non-genetically modified and organic whole grains and whole grain ingredients used in many food products, served both domestically and around the world (www.grainmillers.com). According to the company: "Grain Millers believes that the vision and objectives stated by Practical Farmers fit very well with our own sustainability objectives, as well as our desire to promote long-term production of diversified crop production in Iowa."