Ep 22: For the Sake of Soil – A Seasoned Perspective from Eastern Iowa Farmers

A panel of Eastern Iowa Farmers who care deeply about soil health and water quality. These Iowa natives have decades of experience in agriculture and have seen first-hand the effects of un-sustainable agricultural practices on the landscape of Iowa. Listen as we discuss the importance of soil health, the problems and opportunities future farmers face, and ways we can improve agriculture for better food and environment.


Bob Fassbinder and his wife Kathy have operated Fassbinder Apiaries near Elgin for the past 41 years. Bob graduated from Iowa State University with an engineering degree, but came out as one of Iowa’s most innovative and passionate bee keepers. The Fassbinders tend 200 hives in the river valleys of northeast Iowa. Bob is very proactive at promoting both land stewardship and the need for a diverse and healthy landscape through his bees. They continually work toward improving the local genetic health of their bee colonies by selecting successful local colonies and producing their own queens.

Daryl Landsgard grew up on a farm in Clayton County near Gunder. After obtaining a degree from Luther College in Decorah he returned to the farm and has been a life-long farmer ever since. Daryl is a very conservation minded producer and has been both planting trees and doing no-till on his farm for more than 20 years. He is also an avid hunter and angler which motivate him to also manage many parts of his farm in the best interest of diverse wildlife species.

Paul Schlake is a lifelong farmer from Clayton County near St. Olaf. After Paul decided to quit milking cows, he and his fiancé Julie converted a manure storage pit into a hydroponic greenhouse called the “Red-Greenhouse.” They grow and locally market a variety of fresh flowers and seasonal vegetables.

Richard E. “Dick” Jensen is a retired farmer and former Fayette County Supervisor from Elgin, Iowa, and works for the Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District in West Union. In 2017 he received the Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Award. Dick is also the organization founder of numerous local educational projects including TAKO – Take a Kid Outdoors and the Echo Valley Environmental Nature Trail. He is a passionate advocate of all things nature and is incredibly passionate about “reconnecting kids to the land and exposing them to the great outdoors.” Most important, Dick is one of the most vocal and life-long supporters of soil conservation practices and sustainable agricultural practices.

Gary Siegwarth has been a Natural Resource Biologist for the Iowa DNR Fisheries Bureau the past 26 years. He has managed Big Spring Trout Hatchery near Elkader the past 18 years. Prior to that he was the Interior Streams and Rivers Research Biologist for the State of Iowa. Prior to his career in natural resources, Gary operated the family farm in Jackson County. In 2018, Gary ran for Governor of Iowa as an Independent candidate and formed the Clear Water Party of Iowa. Part of his mission was to raise awareness and to change our way of thinking for both natural resources and the potential of the future of a more diverse and transparent agricultural system in Iowa.

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