Iowa Secretary of Agriculture is pushing state-grown apples and pumpkins for this fall’s jack-o-lanterns and Thanksgiving celebrations. Patty Judge says it’s important to support this niche market for Iowa farmers and growers. Judge visited an Urbandale orchard Thursday to spread the word about the home-grown apple and pumpkin industry. She says we now have over 120 apple orchards generating over two million dollars a year in sales. She says this year we have 839 acres of pumkins that’ll generate about one-point-three million dollars in sales. Judge says the growth in the two crops can be attributed to people discovering that produce grown here tastes fresher. Judge says you should look for a sticker on apples that designates them as locally grown. She says you can find Iowa grown apples all across the state and you’ll also see apples shipped in from other states and countries. Judge says an apple orchard or pumpkin farms are a great way to break into agriculture. She says there are real opportunities in these niche markets — like apple growing, fruits and vegetables, flowers — that’re starting to take off. Judge says it’s a way to get into farming without a large farm.She says they can have a smaller number of acres and not as much capital input into machinery. She says they can sometimes put in some sweat equity and not as much money and do very nicely. Judge encourages you to go to an Iowa orchard or pumpkin patch to pick your own fruit.
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