Etzel Sugar Grove Farm represents the future of agriculture in Iowa: it’s a place where Indian Creek Nature Center will implement restorative agriculture practices that lead us toward greater sustainability in farming, educating the public on these practices as we work to restore the health of Iowa’s farms, watersheds, and environment.
The 190-acre Etzel Sugar Grove Farm, located about four miles northwest of the Tuma Soccer Complex in rural Marion, was donated to the Nature Center by George Etzel in 2016 and is one of the largest gifts in the Nature Center’s history. Presented with this incredible gift, the Nature Center’s board and staff knew it was an opportunity to truly impact environmental sustainability in Iowa. By working toward making agriculture more sustainable, ICNC can carry out its mission to create a more sustainable future.
The purpose of Etzel Sugar Grove Farm is to establish sustainable, economically viable permaculture farming practices and create champions of nature through education and replication of these practices.
As champions of nature and a local, state and regional leader in environmental sustainability, ICNC is uniquely suited to this challenge. Most importantly, the organization is compelled to act before it is too late.
In February 2018, the Nature Center unveiled a two-phase plan to establish environmentally sustainable permaculture farming practices at Etzel Sugar Grove Farm. Phase I of the Nature Center’s plan for the farm includes certifying an 8-acre field as organic, hiring a farm manager, managing livestock including chickens and goats and planting perennial crops using permaculture practices. As part of Phase I, which extends through 2020, the Nature Center will educate the public on the benefits of permaculture farming, with a focus on the economic viability of these practices; provide gardening, farming, and other how-to programs for the public; and educate farmers and farm organizations on the organic certification process.
Permaculture is an agriculture system that creates efficient, self-sustaining ecosystems, effectively reusing energy and resources as much as possible before they leave the system – rather than solely pulling resources from the earth, as current agriculture does. The benefits of permaculture farming include improving water quality, producing valuable goods for market, providing habitat for wildlife and creating corridors for their travel, sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases, and more.
In the past few decades farmers have increasingly integrated sustainable techniques, such as low-till cultivation, into existing farm operations. The time is right to collaborate with them to elevate restorative, organic agriculture to become the foundation of the farm itself. Together with key partners, ICNC will usher in a new era of agriculture in Iowa.
3706 St. Peters Road
Marion, IA 52302
Etzel Sugar Grove Farm is not yet open to the public. Watch this page for updates.
- THE GAZETTE – Indian Creek Nature Center plans sustainable farming on donated land in Linn County
- THE GAZETTE – History-rich lands to be preserved in Indian Creek Nature Center donation
- CORRIDOR BUSINESS JOURNAL – Indian Creek plots new demonstration farm
Each year, Frontier Co-op gives back 4% of its pre-tax profits to causes and organizations around the world that inspire wellness in communities where its products are produced. The co-op has committed the lead gift of $150,000 to the seed campaign for Etzel Sugar Grove Farm.