More and more Iowans are taking steps to produce their own food, and the Iowa State University Extension Department is offering a course that starts this week to help them out. Small farms extension specialist, Andy Larson, says it’s a 12-week course.

“It’s designed for people who live on large lots or small acreages, or real small farms who are basically interested in producing food for their own use — for personal and family use,” Larson explains. “We’ve had a lot of interest on the local food side, a lot of interest in recreating interest in the land and farm side.”

Growing your own food isn’t a necessity for living like it once was, but more people have become interested in the homegrown movement.

“It’s become popular again, which is really exciting to see. And it’s really helping people gain an awareness of how food is produced, and how much work goes into it, and how much value they get out of it,” Larson says.

He says the people involved may’ve started with a simple garden plot, but have ramped that up to much more. “We’re going to be talking about vegetable production on the quarter to one acre to two-acre type of scale. We’re going be talking about orchards, we’re going to be talking about having sheep and cattle on acreages, bee keeping, manure and composting, poultry,” Larson explains. The course will also talk about the potential for expanding the production for use beyond the grower’s table.

Larson says, “It’s one of those things where aside from just having the small-scale garden to you know, use yourself and give away to friends, this is actually going to be a way where people can produce a pretty decent chunk of food. Maybe offset some their grocery expenses, and maybe even start to think of getting into this in a commercial way.”

The course begins Thursday and will be held in Dallas, Jefferson, Fayette, Linn, Marshall, Tama, Poweshiek and Story Counties. You can find out more at: