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ISU tour offers a taste of Northwest Iowa

By Staff | Sep 19, 2013

GUESTS EAT a catered dinner of herb-marinated turkey tenderloin, pork tenderloin, oven-roasted vegetables, fresh garden green beans with sauted onions and bacon, pie and more at Old Town Vineyard & Winery at Ida Grove.

HOLSTEIN – A celebration of good taste awaited people who enjoyed a memorable culinary adventure through Ida and Cherokee Counties, thanks to Iowa State University Extension’s August Farm to Fork tour.

“We want to help consumers discover what local foods are available in the area and help more consumers meet northwest Iowa producers,” said Laurie Taylor, an ISU Extension Master Gardener and regional food coordinator based in Sioux City.

The concept of “know your farmer, know your food” proved so popular for the late-August tour that ISU Extension chartered a larger motor coach to accommodate 57 participants. These food enthusiasts came from Sioux City, Orange City, Rockwell City and parts of Nebraska and South Dakota.

“I like fresh, nutritious local foods and want to support businesses in the community,” said Bonnie Wallace, of Holstein, who added that the tour sparked her interest in growing her own garden.

Wallace and other guests sampled local food at a variety of stops along the tour, including:

DR. JOHN SINNOTT, left, offered the Farm to Fork group a tour of Old Town Vineyard and Winery at Ida Grove.

A. Tiefenthaler Quality Meats. (See related story).

B. Shrimp 59 LLC. The Chad and Keely Dutler family has raised saltwater shrimp on their farm north of Holstein since 2010. They sell their Pacific white shrimp, which are known for their fresh flavor, at the farmers’ market in Sioux City.

The Dutlers use no hormones, chemicals or antibiotics to raise their shrimp, which they receive from a hatchery in Florida. The shrimp stay in nursery tanks on the farm for about 30 days before they are moved into grower tanks. The shrimp are fed a high-protein diet and are marketed when they reach 30 grams.

Farm to Fork guests could sample fresh shrimp prepared with garlic butter, lemon pepper or Cajun spices. They were also encouraged to experience taste comparisons between store-brought shrimp and fresh shrimp from Shrimp 59 LLC.

“It’s tough to keep up with the demand,” said Chad Dutler, who is converting a former hog confinement barn on his farm to expand the family’s shrimp operation.

BONNIE WALLACE, of Holstein, said the Farm to Fork tour sparked her interest in growing her own garden.

C. Koch’s Garden Market. Deb Koch and her family have lived on a farm near Cherokee for 25 years. While they used to operate a farrow-to-finish hog operation, Koch now specializes in vegetable production, including tomatoes, peppers, okra and beans.

She said she built a high-tunnel system three years ago that extends her growing season and allows her to grow more fresh produce, which she sells at the local farmers’ market.

Koch produces about 100 pounds of tomatoes each week with the high-tunnel system.

“I’ve grown my own food for years and am excited to share this with others,” said Koch, who treated guests to fresh tomato cucumber salad on charred baguettes, along with glasses of fresh vegetable juice.

D. Old Town Winery. The Farm to Fork excursion culminated with a wine-tasting event and dinner at Old Town Vineyard and Winery in Ida Grove.

The evening was hosted by Dr. John Sinnott and his wife, Lenee, who established their vineyard in 2006.

Today, the Sinnotts grow La Crescent, Prairie Star, Marquette, Noiret, Traminette, Sabrevois, Frontenac and Petite Pearl grapes on the southern slope of the vineyard and winery that offer a stunning view of Ida Grove.

“We’re always learning something new in this business,” said Sinnott, a retired family physician. After touring the vineyard winery, Farm to Fork guests dined on fresh garden salads with herb vinaigrette, herb-marinated turkey tenderloin, pork tenderloin, oven-roasted vegetables, fresh garden green beans with sauted onions and bacon, pie, bars, cookies, herbal iced tea, pineapple sage-infused lemonade and a sampling of wines.

Deb Carson, of Sioux City, and her daughter said they enjoyed the Farm to Fork experience.

“We like to do educational things,” Carson said. “It’s fun to go as a group and see such a wide variety of farms and food, from shrimp to vegetables to wine.”

ISU Extension has hosted a number of Farm to Fork tours in northwest Iowa in recent months, and Taylor said she looks forward to promoting Iowa’s local foods.

“We want to help showcase sustainability and fresh food throughout the area,” she said.

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