The Story of Pheasant Run Farm
Pheasant Run Farm began in 1991 when Eric and Ann Franzenburg returned to Eric's family farm--a traditional Iowa farm with corn, soybeans, and a farrow-to-finish hog operation. The couple quickly learned that land was difficult to secure because rent prices were too high and competition for acres was fierce. Rather than go into debt to get larger, the Franzenburgs decided to investigate alternative crops that might yield more dollars per acre.
Because of Eric's background in ag research at Iowa State University, he was approached by the Benton Development Group to write a grant proposal and do the research for a two-year SARE study on investigating cultural practices of culinary herbs for Iowa. Eric was hooked and started an odyssey in learning how to grow various culinary and medicinal herbs. Currently, the couple grows dried medicinal herbs for the wholesale market, although tfor the 2010 season, they plan to grow some fresh culinary herbs again for local grocery stores, restaurants, and the farmers markets.
Eric can't stand to see a greenhouse sit empty, so in 2005, the couple experimented with growing tomatoes in greenhouses for an early-season crop of the red beauties. They found their niche in growing grape tomatoes and currently supply local grocery stores. In 2007, Ann quit her teaching job to join Eric full time on the farm. In addition to helping with the daily farm routine, Ann started a cut flower business that supplies a variety of fresh, fragrant flowers for local florists, farmers markets, and CSA shares for grower Susan Jutz of Local Harvest CSA. Ann also supplies flowers for weddings and special events.
The couple is assisted by their three children--Ellen, Calvin and Grant--on the farm. Ellen is attending Iowa State University and helps out whenever she is home from college. Calvin helps with many jobs on the farm ranging from fall tillage to trellising tomatoes. Grant likes to help mom and dad at the farmers markets even if it means getting up early.