Heilmann Hawkeye Acres
by Chris Nordick
Cindy Heilmann, a vivacious, easy going, and quick-to-laugh farmer, runs Heilmann Hawkeye Acres with her husband Dave. Rolling hills and native timber comprise most of the 45 acres on their small Iowa farm. Approximately one acre of land, with two high tunnels and a small greenhouse, are used for growing fruit, flowers, and vegetables. Delicious red raspberries, white peach trees, and hardy Reliant peach trees grace their farm with mouthwatering juicy fruit.Rhubarb, asparagus, lilies, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and peppers are grown either in the high tunnel or in long 400 foot rows.
Cindy grows all her fruits and vegetables organically following sound, healthy, soil building practices since every farmer knows that without good soil, you cannot get great vegetables. Each year in early September, turnip seed is planted on soil which was harvested all summer long. These turnips help reduce the growth of unwanted or invasive weeds in late summer / early fall and provide a nutritious treat in mid-November for her ten “spoiled” Angus cows. The cows clean the field before the snow flies and the soil is ready for planting in the spring. Little to no tilling is required which then leaves the nutrient-rich soil filled with beneficial worms and critters.
And speaking of those cows, each year the cows give birth to adorable baby calves in mid-April. Cindy learned years ago from an old Amish veterinarian, to feed kelp to her Angus mothers in order to improve their health and strengthen them for calving. She uses about 250 pounds of kelp/year for her cows… that which doesn’t get absorbed by the cow gets spread across the fields by natural processes. The calves are weaned and then sold to a farmer friend who raises them on large green pastures and gives them a happy healthy life.
Cindy is a wise and experienced farmer. For those starting out in fruit and vegetable growing she has many great tips. Tip #1 –grow two things you like to eat and add two new things every year. That allows you to enjoy what you grow and learn the nuances of growing new fruits or vegetables before overinvesting your time and energy. Practice makes perfect. Tip #2 –Every week, whether it looks like it needs it or not, roto-till the top ½ to one inch of soil between and around every row. Stay on the surface –that’s where most of the weeds and weed seeds are. Then all you need to do is pull the occasional weed between plants. Great tips!
Cindy’s scrumptious fruit, vegetables, and beautiful flowers can be found at the Clinton Farmers Market and the Freight House Farmers Market from May through October.