Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture will be in Benton County touring different businesses in the agriculture industry on Wednesday, September 24th.  This tour is open to the public and everyone is welcome to join during the afternoon visits!


10:30am-11:30am — Kerry Foods

Kerry was established as Iowa Soy Specialty by three longtime Benton County farmers: Dan VanSteenhuyse of Mt. Auburn; Homer Showman of Shellsburg; and Marlyn Jorgensen of Garrison.

The plant was constructed to process soy beans into soy food and soy oils for human consumption. The plant operated successfully producing products into soy milk, textured soy flour, soy protein, and other soy ingredients.

In 1997, Iowa Soy Specialties was contacted by Kerry (formerly Kerry Foods) of Ireland, who wanted to establish a soy presence in the United States. The business was sold to Kerry in 2001.

Kerry is now a global company with about 30,000 employees, 21 of those in Vinton, IA. They now produce soy flour, soy grits, soy nuts, soy meat analogs and soy cereals, all of which are Kosher and all natural. Today they only package their product for wholesalers that include: Kraft, Nestle, McCormick, Mars, and other large corporations.


1:15pm-2:15pm — Old School Produce — 811 D Ave. Vinton, IA

Old School Produce was started in December 2012, by Mike and Cindy Elwick of Vinton, and is currently in its second season of produce.

The name Old School produce came from its location – the old school in Vinton. The land used to produced their product is the old football field so the land had never been farmed and was used as turf grass. This is why the soil is so rich. Their garden is surrounded by 6 foot of fencing to ensure the crop is secure and sanitized.

Old school produce is a truck farm that sells fruits and vegetables in a roadside stand where the produce is grown. Old school produce practices in Sustainable Agriculture techniques, only using chemicals as a last resort. They also grow vegetables throughout they year by practicing hydroponic gardening.

Elwick says they started Old School Produce as a way to make fresh local produce available to the community. They are currently selling to schools, stores, the Vinton Lutheran Home , Windsor Manner, and Horizon’s Meals on Wheels.


2:45pm-3:45pm — Pheasant Run Farms — 6925 19th Ave. Van Horne, IA

Pheasant Farms was started in the Spring of 1992 when Eric and Ann Franzenburg returned to Eric’s family farm, which was a traditional corn, soybean and hog operation. For the past 15 years, Franzenburgs have been producing specialty crops along with corn and soybeans.

Because of cash and land prices being high, Franzenburgs wanted to become more diversified and get as much income off of the land they already owned. Eric was approached by BDG to write a grant proposal and perform research for a SARE study on investigating cultural practices of culinary herbs. This is when Eric’s passion for producing culinary and medicinal herbs.

Pheasant Farms also has a large variety of produce, including their specialty grape tomatoes, along with fresh cut flowers.

Pheasant Farms sells to a variety of outlets. Their herbs are in the wholesale market and are being shipped worldwide. Ann says about 60% of her flowers are sold at farmer’s market and the last 40% is sold to local florist, including Nature’s Corner in Vinton and Timbergate Gardens in Belle Plaine. Most of their produce is in the retail market being sold or used at Hy-vee, the New Pioneer Coop, the Frontier Cafeteria and the Crooked Antler.

The farm has a staffed by the Franzenburg family with help from about four full-time, summer employees. A goal set by Pheasant Farms is to be able to keep a full-time employee year round.


4:00pm-5:30pm — Wallace Farms — 1531 74th St. Keystone, IA 

Wallace Farms started direct marketing grass-fed beef in 2000 to just a few customers. Since then, they have expanded their deliveries to 8 locations in Iowa and Chicago and opened a store/warehouse in Naperville, IL in 2010.

They have reached thousands of customers over the years as the demand has grown for grass-fed and organic food. Their offerings now include fish from Alaska, organic chickens, free-range turkey, grass-fed lamb and “fresh-air” pork.

The home farm of 160 arces, just south of Keystone, has been in the family since 1894 and has been transitioned back to pasture, hay, organic corn, wheat and oats. They raise grass-fed cattle and pastured laying hens for eggs.

In 2012 they started Nick’s, a grass-fed beef and free-range turkey snack stick company. They market via, Amazon, and grocery stores across the country. The latest notable customers have been both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclone Football programs.

Their family’s missions is to restore diversity back to the rural farming landscape and to provide their customers the highest quality food they can raise off of the land.

Please remember, the public is welcome to join the tour with Sec. Northey at Old School Produce, Pheasant Farms and Wallace Farms. If you have any question about the tour of would like to join the tour please contact Emily at the Benton Development Group office.


Please remember, the public we welcome to join on the tours of Old School Produce, Pheasant Run Farms and Wallace Farms.  If you have any questions, please call Emily at the BDG office.