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Coalition celebrates decade of tree plantings

Article cover photo
Bruce Wessling stands in front of a vegetative buffer he installed on his farm 10 years-ago. Trees and other vegetation around hog barns help with neighbor relations and odor issues. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA Senior Writer

In the 10 years since Bruce and Jenny Wessling planted trees and shrubs around their hog barns near Grand Junction, they’ve realized the benefits of added visual appeal, managing snow deposition more effectively and reducing energy costs in their hog barns.

Last week they joined the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) in celebrating the 10-year anniversary of CSIF’s Green Farmstead Partner (GFP) Program.

It began as a partnership between CSIF, Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. Today, it’s comprised of 26 landscaping professionals across the state trained to help farmers plan for and plant trees and shrubs on new or existing farm sites.

“In the last 10 years, farmers have planted more than 70,000 trees on more than 200 livestock farms,” said Brian Waddingham, CSIF’s director.

CSIF Green Farmstead Partner Program Celebrates 10 Years
CSIF Green Farmstead Partner Program Celebrates 10 Years

As one of the founding partners of the Coalition, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) also supports the GFP Program.

 “This program is just one more example of how voluntary indeed works,” said ISA Communications Director Aaron Putze. “You [CSIF] bring resources, expertise and examples to farmers, and they’ll embrace it if it works and gets good results.

“The Green Farmstead Partner Program is another example of how voluntary — not regulatory — will get you the best results, hands down, over and over.”

The Wessling family was the first to plant trees as part of the GFP Program. Working with nursery and landscape experts, they chose a combination of Austree willows, red cedars and Norwegian spruce trees along with highbush cranberry and dogwood shrubs.

Ten years later, the willows are 40 feet tall, and acting as windbreak for the barn. The visual appeal of the trees and shrubs also enhances the farm’s aesthetics.

The growth of the trees and shrubs — and the ease of working with professionals to make that happen — inspired the next generation of the Wessling family to plant more trees and shrubs with the addition of a second hog barn site.

Iowa farmers have planted more than 70,000 trees on more than 200 livestock farms across the state. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean

Bruce and Jenny’s daughter, Jolee, and fiancé, Austin Saddoris, constructed a hog barn on another site the family owned. They, too, saw the importance of adding trees to the site. Earlier this year, they planted one row each of Austree willows, red cedars and Norway spruce trees.

“For me, it’s nice to come out and see the planting that was done recently and compare that to the facility (planting) done 10 years ago and the value that landowners are actually seeing from that,” said Brad Riphagen, a field coordinator for Trees Forever.

Along with connecting farmers to landscaping professionals, the GFP Program also points out cost-share programs and opportunities which help fund a planting project.

For the Wessling family, planting trees and shrubs have decreased energy costs and are an ultimate neighbor-relations enhancer.

“The biggest thing we’ve noticed is the aesthetics. It helps the site look better,” Bruce said.

As a resource, the GFP Program has brought together helpful professionals, Jenny said.

“It’s not always the funding [that inhibits participation],” she said. “Sometimes, it’s just the information on what you should plant or where you should plant. It’s good to get that kind of help.”

For more information on the Coalition and the GFP Program, visit the website.

Contact Bethany Baratta at

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