Bonnie Beard
Decorah, Iowa
Winneshiek County
130 cows
    Family: I have been married to my husband, Daniel, for almost 40 years. Our oldest child, Erin, is married to Torray Wilson and dairy farm with Torray’s family near Paullina, Iowa. They have four children: Audrey, 9, Nora, 7, James, 4, and Lewis, 3. Our son, Tom, is married to Maren. They farm next door to us at Luna Valley Farm, raising sheep, beef and pigs to direct market and to have meat for the pizzas they serve on their farm on Friday and Saturday nights. Our son, Sam, is engaged to Jennifer Schulz. They will be married in September, and they farm with us, being mostly responsible for raising the youngstock and grazing multiple animal groups. Our son, Parker, is engaged to Esther Ninos. They will be married in October, and they also farm with us, being responsible for grazing the dairy cows and bulls.
    Tell us about your farm. We farm about 1,100 acres of rolling hills in the northeast corner of Iowa. Parts of the land are wooded and very steep, making it most suitable for grazing. We sell our milk through Organic Valley’s grassmilk program, which means our dairy animals are not fed any grain, exclusively grass and hay. We also raise organic corn and small grains to sell. This year, we are experimenting with growing rye, black bean and Japanese millet.  
    What is the busiest time of day for you? Oftentimes our midday meal is the busiest because the people I feed can be in many different places and packing food to take to the field in a timely manner can be challenging for me.
    When you get a spare moment what do you do? I love to try new recipes using the food we produce on our farm. This time of year, I spend most of my free time canning tomatoes, freezing vegetables, making applesauce or bicycling with my husband. This year, our garden has potatoes, onions, leeks, tomatoes, eggplants, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, basil and cilantro. We also have apple trees. It has taken me awhile to learn, but I now like to make meals I make up without having to follow a recipe.
    Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. I feel like we make wonderful memories so often we don’t remember all of them. In our younger years, we would take beef calves to the sales barn in Lanesboro, Minnesota. These were animals owned with Daniel’s siblings so all the families would go along. We would load the truck with all our various sized bikes. To celebrate after the sale, we would ride the bike trail that runs behind the sales barn. It was so much fun to have all different aged cousins along with aunts and uncles riding with us on the trail.  
    What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I love that we have been working together as a family since we started. I find it fulfilling to see the children who have worked beside all our lives discovering their passions and developing them, especially because they are passionate about farming. I also love that our chosen way of life allows us to be outside in the fresh air and the beauty of nature, and also keeps our bodies moving and healthy.
    How do you stay connected with others in the industry? We attend periodic cooperative meetings (that are now by phone or Zoom), field days, and pasture walks organized by Organic Valley, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Land Stewardship Practice.
    Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? Jane Siemon, wife of the first CEO of Organic Valley. I believe she played a prominent (if unrecognized) part in the development of the cooperative into what it is today. Behind every good man is a good (strong, supportive, loyal and smart) woman.
    What is the best vacation you have ever taken? We went to Australia and New Zealand in 2004 when our daughter was studying abroad in college. We were just getting into grazing at the time, so we wanted to learn from farmers where grazing is common. We were fortunate to be able to be away for three weeks exploring. It was a very eye-opening experience, and people were so welcoming and generous.
    What are some words you like to live by? I am introverted so I need reminders of how we ought to live with others. Here are my three phrases I like to live by: Love God first, others second. Treat others the way you like to be treated. Faith, hope and love; the greatest of these is love.