click image to zoom From the neatly kept lawn and lush and colorful landscaping to the playhouses for the kids and custom quilts on each of their hog barns, Ryan and Lana Reed and their three young children go to great lengths to make their rural Ottumwa farm attractive. It is so picturesque that Our Iowa magazine named the Wapello County farmstead the “Prettiest Farm in Iowa” in a five-page photo spread in its June-July issue.
Our Iowa started publication in late 2007 and has featured an Iowa farm in each of its six annual issues since its inception. Managing Editor Larry Wiebel says it’s not unusual for the magazine to select a working farm for the feature, but the Reed farm is one of the first working hog farms the magazine has featured as the “Prettiest Farm in Iowa.”
The Reeds farm and manage a 4,800-head feeder-to-finish swine business, feeding roughly 12,000 hogs a year for Cargill Pork. The family takes pride in doing things right in their hog business, and takes extra time and special care to keep the facilities and farm looking extraordinary. Well-manicured gardens and a 1,200-tree vegetative buffer greatly add to the farm’s aesthetics.
Ryan and Lana’s efforts earned them the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s Environmental Steward Award in 2011 and Reed Family Farms was presented with the 2012 Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award by the National Pork Board and National Hog Farmer magazine. The Reeds also received the “Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award” in January 2012.
“What attracted us to this farm was that it was a hog farm — a modern one at that — and [that] it’s being run by a young farm family had a nice little element to it that we wanted to feature,” Wiebel said.
Our Iowa receives 20 to 30 submissions and nominations each year from readers, neighbors and farmers themselves who are proud of the work they’ve put into their farm and who see other farms featured in the magazine and send in photos, Wiebel said. The editorial staff selects six of the best farms each May and photographs each one during the summer for the following year’s features.
“It has to be pretty,” Wiebel said. “I always say there are hundreds of pretty farms in Iowa, but we’re looking for the very prettiest. It has to have a nice combination of a nice-looking home and outbuildings and, of course, we rely heavily on color in our magazine and we’re always looking for well-done landscaping, pretty flowers and nice road appeal.”
Our Iowa editors received a tip about the Reed farm, which included a link to the environmental steward award story. That gave the magazine a good idea of how the farm looked and the editors immediately decided it was one they wanted to feature.
What did the Reed farm have that made it the “Prettiest Farm in Iowa?”
“The overall attractiveness of the place,” said Wiebel. “The neatness and care they obviously put into taking care of their farmstead; the colors, landscaping, flowers. It had a nice environmental story behind it as well.”
Our Iowa magazine “celebrates all that’s great about living in Iowa” and focuses heavily on color and photography. It has more than 90,000 subscribers in all 50 states and overseas.