This Year’s Iowa State Fair

Have you ever been to the Iowa State Fair? I’ve always wanted to go, but haven’t gotten there yet. Every year, it rates right up there in the best of the to-do travel lists of notable publications anywhere from the New York Time’s to the Aspen Times. For this year, it’s not too late to go!

Here are a few photo highlights from this year’s fair. All photos in this post are taken by photographer Scott Olson for Getty Images.

1. This first photo shows fair visitors looking at a statue of a farmer and his daughter depicted from Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting on the fairgrounds of the Iowa State Fair on August 6, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs from August 7, 2014 until August 17, 2014.

2. Crowds of visitors walk past food vendors at the Iowa State Fair on August 7.

3. Roger Gibson pauses for the National Anthem while viewing the vintage tractor exhibit at the Iowa State Fair on August 7, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa.

4. Artist Sarah Pratt sculpts a statue of Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella out of butter at the Iowa State Fair on August 6, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa. Kinsella was Costner’s character in the movie Field of Dreams which is a story about an Iowa farmer and avid baseball fan.

5. Corn is displayed for judging at the Iowa State Fair on August 6.

6. Farmers wait to compete in the dairy cow judging at the Iowa State Fair on August 7.

7. In this final photo, Theresa Fitzgerald takes her pig for a walk at the Iowa State Fair on August 7.


Don’t miss the resurrected mini-version of Sowing Agricultural Seeds Daily (added to upper right sidebar). I intend to post notable links in that spot each day going forward. Thanks for your patience – I received numerous emails asking about the site from people who said they missed it.

Working the Rice Fields in India

In this series of photos, you will see farmers in India working in the rice fields.

This first photo shows Indian women labourers working in the paddy fields at Medak district, some 60 kilometers from Hyderabad. The Indian economy, which is still considered an agriculture economy, is dependent on the amount of monsoon rains as a large part of the agricultural produce comes from the monsoon fed crops.

India received nearly 35 percent below average rain fall since the start of monsoon season (June to September) and due to this the rice planting is 18 percent lower compared to the same period 2013, according to official sources.

Here is another photo of farm workers in the paddy fields at Medak district.

Below, an Indian farmer sprays fertilizer in the paddy fields at Medak district.

Next, an Indian labourer carries bundles of paddy ahead of planting in the paddy fields.

In this next photo, an Indian farmer levels a muddy field with a pair of oxen ahead of the planting of paddy at Medak district, some 60 kilometers from Hyderabad on July 31, 2014.

In this final photo, an Indian farmer levels a muddy field with a hand-made wooden stick.

(All photos are by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images on July 31, 2014.)

Hmong Farming Community Near Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo by Kimberley Britt @ FlickrCC July 10, 2014.
“Smiling Eyes” – local farmer – in Minnesota

With a population of 66,000, Minneapolis has the largest Hmong urban population in the world. Farm programs for the Hmong in the Twin Cities area were begun in the 1980s.

These next photos are all taken at HAFA farm in Minnesota. HAFA stands for Hmong American Farmers Association. This group has benefitted the region with their unique and diverse specialty crops, as you will see in the photos.

Mao – onions – HAFA FARM

JUDY GAO – looking south – HAFA FARM

Veronica – wash stations – HAFA FARM

Mo, Sam, Mao, Vinai – red potatoes – HAFA FARM

Mao, Moua, Mao – peas – HAFA FARM

Tha corn seed – HAFA FARM


Finally, here is a video explaining the HAFA farm:

I’d venture to guess that this Hmong farm community around Minneapolis is aging as its younger generation chooses urban jobs over rural, as is the case everywhere else, too.

Photos are by Mike Hazard, Media for HAFA, FlickrCC.

Evaptainer, a New Version of the Pot-in-Pot Refrigerator

The pot-in-pot refrigerator may have been used as long ago as 2,500 years B.C. in Egypt. It uses nature to cool food through evaporation. By using a smaller clay pot inside a larger one, and filling the layer in between with wet sand, the inner pot cools as heat is withdrawn from the inner pot into the outer air and can be used to refrigerate food. No electricity is needed.

Now, an MIT student is developing a “modern” version of this simple refrigerator so that it can be moved more easily, and it doesn’t break like clay pots do.

Quang Truong and Spencer Taylor have founded Evaptainers, using a breathable crate on wheels and various evaporative mediums like jute, sawdust, or ceramic beads instead of sand. The low-tech mobile refrigerator will be tested in a pilot project with Moroccan farmers this next year. Besides helping farmers in developing countries, they think the product would have many other useful applications.

This is their redesign of the clay pot-in-pot refrigerator.

To learn more, visit the Evaptainer website here.