The Iowa State University Shade Tree Short Course and Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association Conference and Trade Show +

The Shade Tree Short Course (a 2-day Extension-sponsored event begun in the mid 1950′s) is widely recognized as the premier educational conference of its kind in the Midwest, if not the nation.

The STSC, held in February on the ISU campus at the Scheman Building, attracts arborists, landscape architects and designers, grounds maintenance workers, educators, nursery and garden center professionals, students, and community volunteers from Iowa and surrounding states to learn from internationally renowned authorities on topics related to landscape horticulture and arboriculture. Attendance figures vary from year to year, but on average, the event attracts about 600 participants. In 2009, the STSC combined with the Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association Annual Convention and Trade Show in hopes of broadening the number and scope of clients being served.


Master Gardener Program +

The mission of the Iowa Master Gardener Program is to provide current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to the citizens of Iowa throug.h ISU Extension programs and projects. Over 10,000 Iowans have been trained as Iowa State University Master Gardeners since 1979. There are active Master Gardeners in 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Active Master Gardeners regularly contribute close to 100,000 volunteer hours in their communities each year.

To learn more about the Master Gardener training program in Iowa, please visit:


Home Demonstration Garden +

Each year the Home Demonstration Garden showcases new and unusual annual and vegetable plants at ISU Research Farms across the state. While the theme of the garden changes every year, essentially the same garden is planted at each farm. ISU Extension specialists and farm staff host a Home Demonstration Garden Field Day for the public in late summer at each garden.

The 2014 garden features purple vegetables, impatiens for sunny sites, dwarf zinnias, and assorted newly released annual and vegetable varieties. Field days are scheduled to begin in late July and run through early August.

For more information about the Home Demonstration Garden Field Days and locations, visit:


ISU Organic Agriculture Program +

The mission of the Iowa State University Organic Agriculture Program is to educate producers, consumers and policy makers on the research and extension activities in Organic Agriculture both on-farm and in the Universities. Organic Agriculture involves a production management system based on the ecological principles of nutrient cycling, biotic regulation of pests, and biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are replaced by sunlight-based inputs, such as plant and animal residues. Premium prices for certified organic products drive the immediate economic benefits of Organic Agriculture. Long-term benefits to human and environmental health are also derived through these practices. ISU operates an Organic Agriculture Program to provide research information and extension presentations for Iowa citizens. Field Days and workshops are held throughout the year, and a 16-week course on Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture is held every other year and available on CD. The Annual Iowa Organic Ag Conference is held every year, with the 14th Annual Conference scheduled for November 17-18, 2014, in conjunction with the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The conference features experts in organic production, marketing, and organic regulations, along with inspiring stories from organic farmers and gardeners, and a dinner created with locally-grown organic ingredients.


Hortline +

A telephone and e-mail service provides assistance to Iowans with gardening questions. The telephone number is 1-515-294-3108. Assistance is available from 10:00 to noon and 1:00 to 4:30, Monday through Friday. The e-mail address is

From 2009 through 2013 an average of 3000 individuals received assistance to their gardening questions via the telephone. During this same time period, an average of 1350 clients received answers to their email questions. Gardening information is also available from the Yard and Garden FAQs website. The database has answers to over 800 commonly asked questions on a wide range of gardening topics.


Iowa's Grape and Wine Industry +

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach began to work closely with the reestablishment of the Iowa grape and wine Industry in 2000. At this time there were 15 vineyards and 31 acres of grapes, which were primarily table grapes, and 13 Iowa wineries, of which two were growing wine grapes. The first several years of board meetings of the newly formed Iowa Grape Growers Association (IGGA) that was established in 2000 were held on the ISU campus and ISU horticulture staff worked closely as advisors. The IGGA changed their name to the Iowa Wine Growers Association (IWGA) in 2004. ISU Extension and Outreach continues to work very closely with the IWGA.

The Horticulture Research Station has been the site of viticulture research with a vineyard containing hybrid wine grapes established in 1985. Results from these experiments provided the data that hybrid wine grapes can be grown successfully in Iowa’s climate. New viticultural research projects and vineyards started in 2002 at ISU Research and Demonstration Farms around Iowa determined sustainable viticultural practices and cultivars adapted for Iowa’s climate and soil conditions.

The ISU Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute was established by the Iowa Board of Regents in September of 2006. ISU Horticulture, Food Science, and Extension Valued Added Agriculture program all work closely with this Institute. Faculty and staff from ISU Horticulture, Food Science, and Ag & Bioscience Engineering are also part of the Extension and Research team working with a twelve-state, land-grant university, Northern Grapes Project.

Today, the Iowa grape and wine industry has grown dramatically. As of July of 2014, Iowa has 101 licensed wineries, 312 commercial vineyards and 1,250 acres. The Economic Impact of Iowa Wines and Wine Grapes -2012 report, by Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP of California, showed a $420 million total economic impact in Iowa. Today, 300,000+ gallons of wine are being produced in Iowa with a retail value of over $15 million. Over $68 million in federal, state and local taxes are being generated by this locally produced product, which currently has approximate 6% of the Iowa retail wine market. Iowa State University Horticulture has been a key partner with the Iowa grape and wine industry through all of its growth and will continue to support the industry in the future.


Commercial Vegetable Production +

The growing interest and consumer demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables is rapidly transforming specialty crop production in Iowa, especially vegetable production. The current trend shows a steady increase in vegetable acreages that are sustainably managed. Vegetable production is a complex undertaking and requires knowledge and skillsets ranging from transplant production, integrated pest management, soil and water management, crop rotation, crop specific cultural techniques, information on harvest indices, post-harvest handling, and storage and food safety. The mission of Vegetable Production program at Iowa State is to identify grower needs, conduct applied research, and develop tools, techniques, strategies, and educational programs to benefit the vegetable industry in Iowa. The overarching goal is to provide research-based information for growers to increase productivity and profitability of their production systems. The program is also involved in educating and training graduate and undergraduate students who will be the new generation of growers and food entrepreneurs in Iowa and beyond.

The Vegetable Production program constantly strives to provide growers with new and relevant information on vegetable production. This is achieved through field days, workshops, seminars and engaging with industry partners and grower organizations. Research, extension, and teaching programs in vegetable production are carried out at primarily three locations: Horticulture Research Station, Ames, IA, Muscatine Island Research Farm, Fruitland, IA, and Armstrong Research Station, Lewis, IA. Research topics include a number of areas in vegetable production such as cover cropping, conservation tillage, high tunnel crop production, soil fertility, nutrient management, organic amendments (compost), biochar, plasticulture, and niche crops for Iowa landscapes.

Stakeholder involvement and feedback is at the heart of vegetable research conducted at Iowa State University. The Vegetable Production program brings together growers, industry leaders, cooperative extension, and other public and private organizations involved in agricultural sustainability. To broaden the impact of research, the program maintains strong relationships with key stakeholders including the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (IFVGA), Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (LCSA), Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS), and collaborative interdisciplinary teams on-campus, in the North Central region, and across the country. We strongly believe that such collaborations are valuable and help in developing innovative tools and techniques to keep the vegetable industry strong and resilient. Funding agencies supporting vegetable research, teaching, and extension activities include United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), IDALS, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), National Wildlife Federation, and LCSA.