Rosmann Family Farms, a business owned and operated by Ron and Maria Vakulskas Rosmann and sons, is located four miles northwest of Harlan in Shelby County. Ron has farmed this land where he was raised following his graduation from Iowa State University in 1973. The farm has had organic certification since 1994, beef operation since 1998 and certification for pork since 2004.
After receiving an ISU biology degree, Ron began farming in earnest. Not satisfied with conventional farming practices, he began in the 80’s to explore sustainable agriculture methods. His goals of building up the soil and not just the plant, using different tillage methods, and improving the genetics in the livestock were reachable. Ron’s late father had already taught him the value of crop rotations and diversity.
That interest in sustainable agriculture helped Ron team up with like-minded individuals who formed Practical Farmers of Iowa. Based in Ames, this group is devoted to profitable, environmentally sound farming practices. By conducting years of on-farm research with ISU, PFI has helped many farmers to incorporate more sustainable practices into their farming operations.
Ron has dedicated much of his efforts to the preservation of the small and medium-sized family farm. Over the years, he has been asked to address many audiences including university groups, members of Congress, business meetings and organizations. The family has hosted tours of their farm from all around the United States and six continents. Ron has written and published a considerable amount on these issues and recently completed a six-year term as a board member and president of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, based in Santa Cruz, California.
Ron and his wife Maria Vakulskas Rosmann are the parents of three sons, David who lives and works in Chatfield, Minnesota for the Land Stewardship Project; Daniel (married to Ellen Walsh-Rosmann with their child, Xavier) who farms with his parents; and Mark who lives and works in Washington D.C. in global food security. The boys were all active in 4-H, and their high school’s music program, including their marching, concert and jazz bands. All are graduates of Iowa State University with various degrees involving agriculture. Ron and Maria’s goal was to teach their sons as many of the skills involved in farming so they will be able to make an informed response when the time comes for them to decide if they want this way of life.
Maria Rosmann was raised in Sioux City and has a journalism degree from Creighton University. Prior to her marriage, she was a television announcer, worked in TV promotions and was the News Bureau Editor at Creighton. After taking time off to be at home with her sons, she worked in hospital public relations and was development director for Shelby County Catholic Schools. Now, her efforts are solely with the marketing of their beef, pork and popcorn and working with Ron.
Rosmann Family Farms, 700 acres of corn, oats, soybeans, barley, popcorn, turnips, pasture and hay, is certified organic by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The cow-calf operation (90 cows – Red Angus) is an important part of the organic picture. The Rosmanns strongly support the use of rotational grazing practices. They also have a 60-sow certified organic farrow-to-finish hog operation and raise organic chickens annually.