FRESH Q&A Discussion Leader
Francis Thicke, with his wife Susan, owns and operates
a 75-cow, grass-based, organic dairy near Fairfield, Iowa. They process their milk on the farm and market their dairy
products through grocery stores and restaurants in Fairfield. Francis has served in many organizations, including the
Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Iowa Food Policy Council, and on the boards of directors of the Organic Farming
Research Foundation and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. He has a Ph.D. in soil fertility and
has served as the National Program Leader for Soil Science for the USDA-Extension Service in Washington, D.C. In Sept
2009, Francis announced his candidacy for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
Jerry Peckumn, with son Tom, farms in Greene County. He raises corn, soybeans,
forage and beef. His land management strategies include residue management, nutrient management, site specific pest
management, cover crops, water quality assessments, and perennial crops. He also sets aside land for wildlife and ecological
refuges. He understands the need to remain profitable and competitive in agriculture and also believes that natural
resource conservation is an important ethical component in our lives. Jerry graduated from Iowa State University in
Agricultural Business, worked many years in agricultural finance, served on the Iowa DNR's Environmental Protection Commission,
and is a member of many conservation organizations including Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation,
Izaak Walton League, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. He also chairs the Iowa Rivers Revival, a statewide river
advocacy group. Jerry's wife, Gail, works in environmental education. They have three children, Christine, Thomas, and
George Naylor farms near Churdan, Iowa. After graduating from
the University of California, Berkeley, he moved back to his family farm in 1976 and was soon elected to the first Iowa Corn
Promotion Board. During the farm crisis of the 1980's, he was active in the American Agriculture Movement, Iowa Farm
Unity Coalition and the North American Farm Alliance. He has served as past president of the National Family Farm Coalition,
was on the Executive Committee of the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, and was a member of former Iowa Governor Vilsack's
Agricultural Task Force and Water Summit. He has also attended gatherings at various international trade talks.
He is prominently featured in Michael Pollan's best selling book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and is a featured farmer in the
documentary film FRESH.
Nick Foster is a fifth generation farmer in Greene County Iowa. Nick
and his wife, Annette, live in the same farmhouse that his great grandfather and brother built. Nick has lived and worked
on Pleasant Prairie stock farm all his life. His education came from farming with his parents and a full set of grandparents
until he was well into his 30's. Today, his operation is shared with the next generation, his son-in-law James Timmons.
Nick and James share a passion for excellence in agriculture. Their operation consists of corn and soybean rotation.
James and Nicole (Nick & Annette's daughter) have begun raising pigs on the family farm with Niman Ranch. Niman
Ranch mandates that the hogs be raised in a proper environment and fed a balanced nutritious and antibiotic and hormone-free
diet. Their passion has also led the family to host a 1900 farm reenactment threshing bee at their home.
Chris Henning (discussion moderator)
Chris Henning - farmer, foodie, environmentalist
and community activist - was a Greene County farm girl who left "for good" right after high school to lead a life
in the business world where she spent nearly 20 years at Meredith Corporation in Des Moines and 7 years in events planning
and production in Arizona. She returned to her farming roots in 1992 to farm just a mile from where she grew up.
She was a founding member and the Executive Director for the Greene Bean Projects from 2001 to 2008. She has also been
an outspoken community organizer and activist for clean air and clean water, after the floods of '93 stranded her on her farm.