FAIRFIELD — Before the fireworks start, "Celebrate the American Farmer" on July 4 with a farm crawl through Jefferson and Van Buren counties.
Sponsored by Hometown Harvest Southeast Iowa, the crawl is defined as a slow, intimate visit to several farms in the local area for the purpose of understanding food production and the farmers who work the land.
The 10 featured farms will hold their free open houses from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be served in two locations. Donations for a traditional Iowa lunch at Morris Park will go toward new siding for the old barn and museum, and Bubba Q's will be serving lunch at Barb Grijalva's stop on the crawl. At 6 p.m., a catered dinner will be served at Maasdam Barns. Tickets for the dinner are $35.
Jan Swinton, local food coordinator for Hometown Harvest, says the event is just one of three they're planning for the season.
"It's a free crawl, and you have the opportunity to come and go as you please," she said. "These farmers love to have people on their farm. They love to show where their food comes from. Many of them are farm market vendors, so there are people who love to buy from them that are going to have the opportunity to see their farms."
Each farm has a different story and theme for the day. Cory Klehm is a sixth-grade science teacher. Ernie Hinkle will be 89 this year and has had 30 foster children share his love for tulips and the orchard. Claude Nicholson has begun a national campaign to distribute his Aronia berry granola bars at RAGBRAI.
"You don't have to take them in order. You want to look at the map and decide what your highest priority is," Swinton suggested. "You think you'll have a 10-minute visit, but it turns into an hour and 10 minutes. You might not get to all of them , so choose accordingly."