November 9, 2017

Planting Monarch Habitat

Although harvest season is still on the minds of many Iowa farmers, now is a good time to start thinking about planting monarch habitat.

According to the monarch butterfly research team with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, November and December are ideal months for establishing grasses, sedges and large-seeded forbs that attract the mighty monarch.

For more information and planting tips, check out the following video or visit

October 26, 2017

Green Farmstead Partner Profile, Kelly Tree Farm

By Haley (Banwart) Berry, CSIF Assistant Field Specialist  

For over 50 years, Kelly Tree Farm has been a leader in designing and planting windbreaks around livestock farms.  It’s a niche the Iowa based nursery became well-known for under the direction of Kevin Kelly, the original owner.
In 2016, Kelly Tree Farm transitioned into the good hands of current owner and manager, Jacob Dohmen. Dohmen’s educational background in conservation management and biology coupled with an internship and several years of full-time employment at the tree farm made him an ideal fit for the position.

“My dad has been planting Christmas trees since 1991, so I grew up planting trees on his property, and then moved over with Kevin to doing Christmas trees as well as the nursery side of things,” said Dohmen. “I’ve always wanted to work outside, so working at the tree farm was something where I could take my knowledge from school and apply it.”

Planting trees around livestock barns continues to be a focus at Kelly Tree Farm. According to Dohmen, many of his repeat customers quickly realize the value of their investment.

“No one I’ve worked with has ever been disappointed by planting a windbreak, they usually wish they would have done it years ago,” said Dohmen. “For one it helps from a neighbor relations aspect, especially for farms located on main highways, and secondly, trees can lessen energy costs by protecting barns from weather elements and providing proper ventilation.”

To maximize the lifespan of a windbreak, Dohmen generally recommends planting three rows of trees with an outer row of fast growing deciduous trees, such as the austere willow, for an initial screen followed by two rows of evergreen species for long term growth.  

As Dohmen’s responsibilities have shifted from maintenance to management at Kelly Tree Farm, he has also filled Kevin’s role as a participant in the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers Green Farmstead Partner program (GFP).  For Dohmen, it’s an opportunity to share his expertise and services beyond his established client base.

“I look forward to working with the Coalition because they can be the ambassador in doing some of the groundwork with farmers, pointing them in the right direction and sending them our way for the final product.”

Located near Clarence, Kelly Tree Farm supplies and installs trees and shrubs across Iowa and in neighboring states. While Dohmen and his team specialize in on-farm windbreaks, their services also include windbreak design consultation, pre-plant site preparation, forest stand improvement and post-planting maintenance. For more information about Kelly Tree Farm, visit or

The Green Farmstead Partner program was created by farmers to help other farmers who are interested in establishing windbreaks. It is offered by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers with the help of Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. All livestock farmers are eligible for the program.

August 31, 2017

Green Farmstead Partner Profile: Egli Landscapes

By Haley Banwart, CSIF Assistant Field Specialist  

Tim Egli understands the challenges farmers face raising livestock. It’s something he learned growing up on a dairy farm in southeast Iowa and running his own professional landscaping business over the past 13 years.

“As I developed this business and saw what was going on in the turkey, hog and cattle industries, I realized one of the unique challenges farmers are up against is that nobody wants to have the sites and smells that go along with livestock farming, but they still want to have food on the table at the end of the day,” said Egli. “I firmly believe that by doing the best we can to fix things aesthetically we can make this whole thing a win-win.” 

Egli’s farm background not only fueled his passion for cultivating plant life, but set the expectations that would later drive the Egli Landscapes business model. Today, those expectations include providing quality services, building lasting business relationships and adding value to every client’s property.

While Egli’s customers range from farmers to homeowners, he shares the same philosophy with every client – landscaping is an investment.

“I want people to understand that when you invest in a shrub or a tree it’s going to grow through the generations of your kids and grandkids, so it’s a long-term investment,” said Egli.

Landscape Longevity
Egli Landscapes also has a reputation for installing larger plant material to establish ‘immediate impact landscapes’. According to Egli, the number one reason he uses this approach is to create an instant transformation on a property. The second reason applies to maintenance costs.
“By planting larger trees and shrubs, you don’t have near the problems from the maintenance side of it including damage from deer, weeds and other pests,” said Egli. “You’ll either have to spend more time and money on maintenance with a smaller plant, or up-front with the larger material. You have to make that decision.”

Egli works hand-in-hand with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) to help farmers make those decisions. As a participating landscape professional in CSIF’s Green Farmstead Partner Program, Egli has the experience and expertise to assist farmers in designing and installing windbreaks on their livestock farms.

“Farmers want to be communicated with to understand why trees are so important and that this is a thing that you don’t just set and forget,” said Egli. “You might not see the true benefits from a tree planting for another 20-25 years, but what you have to remember is you’re building something for the next generation.”

The Green Farmstead Partner program was created by farmers to help other farmers who are interested in establishing windbreaks. It is offered by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers with the help of Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. All livestock farmers are eligible for the program.