FAIRFIELD, Iowa – When transcendental meditation teachers Jim and Sara Anderson decided Fairfield would be their home base they bought 10 acres of a housing development just northwest of town. At that time, back in 2013, they had no idea they would grow as attached to the land as they have become. Eight years later, and with some help from the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) the now 35 acre Anderson Prairie Farm will remain a farm practicing regenerative agriculture. “Ad Infinitum,” says Sara.
The Andersons built their home themselves, in the Vedic style not uncommon in the Fairfield area. Most of that original land they converted to a natural prairie. After the home was complete they began gardening and found lots of healthy foods that grew well in the soil around their home.
“The land just seems to want to grow food for humans,” says Sara.
They added more land, grew more food, from legumes to fruits and nuts to peppers and garlic, and are working with local people who want to grow produce but don’t have access to the land to grow on. Jim says “This is really what we think our mission is, to support new young farmers who will permanently be growing food rather than just subsidized commodities.”
They also connected with SILT and, through SILT’s Circle Our Cities Campaign, started the process to ensure their land would be a place to grow food in the future. The Andersons’ mission fits well with the Circle Our Cities campaigns mission to have 10 permanent table food farms around 10 cities in Iowa within the next 10 years.
The Andersons say their land is not a farm, not yet anyway. “We’re willing to put our time and energy and resources into evolving it because it is mostly raw prairie, it’s rested for over 20 years, it hasn’t been farmed and there hasn’t been cattle on it for maybe 25 years,” says Sara.
They plan to add a greenhouse area and shape the contours around their two small lakes to make plots for growers who want to provide food for others in the Fairfield area through CSAs and other cooperative efforts. They are also planting fruit and nut trees mostly around their home. One grower plans to offer a CSA in 2022 to serve between 30 and 60 customers.
Explaining how SILT becomes the owner of their property Sara says, “We chose to go with a reserve life estate which means basically SILT holds the deed to our land and it becomes theirs when we’re both dead.”
The Andersons add they’re in no hurry for that to happen.