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Jutz receives 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa

From news reports

Date Modified: 02/06/2014 12:11 PM

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SOLON — Susan Jutz, of Solon, is the recipient of the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award, given annually by Practical Farmers of Iowa to someone who has shown exemplary commitment to sustainable agriculture, shared his or her knowledge and been influential in efforts to foster vibrant communities, diverse farms and healthful food.

The award will be presented to Jutz at a dinner on Jan. 24, during Practical Farmers' 2014 Annual Conference, "Well Grounded," in Ames.

Jutz owns ZJ Farm, an 80-acre diversified vegetable and sheep farm located between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. In 1996, she co-founded Local Harvest CSA, a three-season Community Supported Agriculture program that was one of the first CSAs in Iowa.

Since then, Jutz has been a principal partner and vegetable grower for the CSA, which now supplies more than 200 families with fresh vegetables and herbs grown using organic and sustainable practices.

"Susan has always been willing to share her expertise in farming with anyone," said Dan Wilson, president of PFI's board of directors. "Her commitment to making agriculture more sustainable is leaving an impact on Iowa's agricultural landscape, and she is blazing a path for other women to follow."

Besides being a past PFO board member and president, Jutz shares her knowledge with the public at numerous field days and been a long-time participant in Practical Farmers' Cooperators' Program.

Jutz also has mentored several beginning farmers. Recently, she mentored beginning farmer Kate Edwards, owner of Wild Woods Farm, through PFI's Savings Incentive Program. She and Kate also are partners, along with business entrepreneur Dick Schwab, in The Farming Institute, a summer training program designed to equip emerging farmers with in-depth, hands-on experience.

"I was astonished," said Jutz, when notified that she was selected to receive the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award. "There are so many amazing farmers in Practical Farmers of Iowa that it's a huge honor to be selected from among such excellent farmers who are striving hard to leave their land and communities in a better place."

Part of Jutz's unwavering belief in sustainable models of agriculture stems from her vision of sustainability as an ongoing process.

"To me, sustainable agriculture is like a dance with your community, with your land, with your environment, to adapt to the ever-changing world," Jutz said. "Right now, we're dealing with a volatile climate. What worked for me 10 years ago isn't working now. The only way I can be effective is to keep experimenting with ways to achieve a better balance."

Jutz credits her parents with instilling in her a love for the land and her ethic. She grew up on her family's dairy farm near Gibbon, Minn., and recalls her father as being "an excellent farmer" who "really cared about the land."

"They used a limited amount of chemicals and were very in touch with their land and animals," Jutz said. "They always talked about the future, our responsibility to those who came after us and our responsibility to the land, animals and community."

She will be presented the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award during the PFI Potluck Party, which runs from 7 p.m. to midnight Jan. 24 at the CPMI Event Center, 2321 North Loop Drive in Ames.