Jóia Food and Fiber Farm

Joya Food and Fiber Farm sheep eating forage.

Jóia Food and Fiber Farm
Charles City, IA

Apprenticeship Mentor Farm

Agroforestry Systems:

Farm Information

Jóia Food & Fiber Farm is located in North Central/East Iowa on 130 acres of flat, deep black soils of former prairie. Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkinis, who moved from Los Angeles in 2010 to run the family-owned land, are in the process of bringing back its ecological balance.

In 2015, they started the transition away from conventional corn and soybean production and into organic row-crop production. During the hay and pasture years within the organic rotation, they discovered the love of grazing. The farm currently has 45 acres planted in Kernza®, a perennial grain crop, which reached its first harvest year in 2023; 15 acres in riparian restoration and early riparian forest; 10 acres in wetland and wildlife habitat; 60 acres in perennial cool season pasture with 7 acres of it planted to silvopasture (a main project this spring); and 1 acre of windbreak (another main project this spring). The farm’s perimeter is entirely fenced for adaptive grazing management with a 150 ewe flock and their lambs, 25 custom grazed cow calf pairs, and a few cow calf pairs of our own.

The farm has planted over 3,000 trees in the last four years with about half of them still in their early years to need care. Wendy and Johnny have a young and emerging micro orchard of Chinese chestnut and apple trees where they graze meat chickens in the summer. They also raise some pigs, egg-laying chickens and ducks, and seasonal turkeys. The meat and eggs are sold through local and regional buying clubs, online sales, small retailers, and local food distributors. The farm sells the majority of the lamb wholesale through a few grass-fed and finished companies and the grains through organic cooperatives.

Farm Information
Located: Charles City, IA
Farmland Owner: Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkinis

Apprenticeship Opportunities

Apprentices assist with tree establishment and care for all newly planted trees and shrubs younger than 3 years old and growth care for trees 3 to 5 years old. This includes: help with tree and shrub planting site preparation; consistent mowing and weed trimming around young trees and shrubs; help with the establishment of a 7-acre silvopasture; put in place rabbit guard protection around newly planted trees and shrubs; assisting with haying in silvopasture; assisting with CRP burns; help with the establishment of a new windbreak, regular mulching, weeding, and watering of potted trees and shrubs; chainsaw education and cutting of older trees with assistance moving around larger logs in strategic areas for natural decomposition; and learning together about biochar as a fertilizer. We will need to burn several logs and limbs from removed trees to make way for the enhanced windbreak; learn and assist as needed with grazing animals; learn and assist as needed with other farm enterprises; learn and assist with mechanical and infrastructure repair and maintenance; help to prep and seed a small garden plot with late-season vegetables in late June; assist with an urban edible arboretum project in Charles City; and pick black raspberries and red raspberries in our small food forest as quickly as possible, without eating them all first.

Apprenticeship Program

Availability: Open



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