Cool Tools


photo of a woman farmerBeginning Farmers Resource Guide

This 48‐page curriculum can be used in farmer training programs or on incubator farms. It covers production practices, post‐harvest handling and business planning, with learning objectives, hands‐on activities and links to worksheets and resources.


Cover Crops

Cover Crops

A publication based on the research through the Leopold Center by Fernando Miguez, Iowa State University Associate Professor of Agronomy, and students Andrea Basche, Gabrielle-Roesch-McNally,and Rebecca Clay. You can download a PDF file through the ISU Extension Store.

garlicGrower's Manual: A Template for Grower Cooperatives

This 24-page manual, adapted from GROWN Locally, helps local food cooperatives improve their handling practices and meet food safety standards.



High Tunnel Resources

Iowa High Tunnel Fruit and Vegetable Manual
Rainwater Catchment from a High Tunnel for Irrigation Use
Vegetable Production Budgets for a High Tunnel
Tunnels to Tables reports listed on the Marketing Resources page.

Hoop Structures

For Beef
For Swine
For Other Livestock including sheep, horses, ostriches


Iowa CSA Farms

Iowa CSA Farms Directory

The directory is updated annually and produced by ISU Extension and Outreach Local Foods Program. The page provides a link to a form allowing you to make changes or provide updates on your operation.

fruits and vegetablesIowa Fruit and Vegetable Market Planner

This online tool shows rates of demand for 80 crops, with settings for regions in and around Iowa, consumers by age group, various time frames and product mixes. The Planner was funded, reviewed and published by the Leopold Center; developed and hosted by the Institute for Transportation at ISU.

For more information about how to use the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Market Planner, see our Users Guide.


Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Production Budgets

These are enterprise budgets for 14 fruit and vegetable crops commonly grown in Iowa. The tool includes example worksheets (in PDF format) and Excel spreadsheets. Also check Alternative Enterprise Budget sheets for: beekeepingChristmas treesdairy goatspopcorn, raspberries, sheep sorghum, and sweet corn in the Digital Repository.

farmers market vendorIowa Food Marketing Regulations: A Guide for Small-Scale Producers

This guide offers an overview of the various licenses required for selling local foods in Iowa (fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, honey and dairy) and directs readers to the appropriate agency for answering specific questions.



Iowa Market Maker

Locate businesses and markets in Iowa, also marketing and training materials, resources and directories for 18 other states. It was developed by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at ISU with Leopold Center support.


Delivery truck

Local Foods and Related Publications

Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit
Iowa Local Food Organizational Toolkit: Part 1    Part 2    Part 3
Managing Cash Flow for a Low-Capital Food Hub Start-up
Local Food Coordinators
Supporting Local Food System Development in Your Community

Learning about Local

Directory of Iowa groups involved in local foods.

Learning about Local at ISU

Directory of ISU organizations, programs, services and courses about local foods.


man sitting on eco-weeder tool

Machinery Sharing Manual for Fruit and Vegetable Growers

This 50-page manual looks at options for sharing farm machinery with sample agreements and worksheets, plus information from five case studies.


Post-Harvest Handling Decision Tool

This publication describes handling systems for different groups of crops and general considerations for designing your own post-harvest handling system. This tool was developed by the Fruit and Vegetable Working Group. 


grower at farmers market

Small Market Producers: FAQ on Food Regulations

Responses from state agency and university experts on food safety and food regulations.



Transplant Production Decision Tool

This tool provides information for Upper Midwest farms about transplant production options when scaling up to meet increasing demand for local and organic produce. It includes profiles of several small- and large-scale growers.  



Two Vegetable Wash Station Designs

These detailed instructions and illustrations will help fruit and vegetable growers build low-cost and efficient wash stations. This tool was developed by the Fruit and Vegetable Working Group.



U.S. Food Market Estimator

This tool can approximate markets for more than 200 different food products in every county and state in the United States. More