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Karlene and Ron Humpal stand in front of the 164 acres they donated to SILT in 2019.

Ron and Karlene Humpal donated their 164-acre farm just five miles northwest of Decorah in 2019.  SILT now protects nine farms with a total of 935 acres through agricultural conservation easements and land donations.

“This is for the future,” Ron Humpal said. “It’s to help protect the watershed. And it’s one way to get back to small farming.” Ron is the founder of a small business doing contract work for a former Textron-owned manufacturing company many local residents still know as Camcar. He is retired.

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“We want to help and encourage young farmers to get started,” added Karlene, whose father was a cousin of Norman Borlaug, best known as the father of the Green Revolution. “We believe SILT provides a way to make this happen.”

SILT will be offering the Humpals’ gift to the farming community for a three-year starter lease. Once that farmer is successful, SILT will offer a long-term land lease that future generations can inherit so long as they farm the land themselves. Farmers will be able to gain equity and own the house, barns and other infrastructure they build, just as river cottage owners, mobile home owners or downtown businesses often own the building but not the land under it.

Ron stands next to one of his many walnut trees he has planted over 40 acres on one part of the farm.

“We’re so pleased to see this gift come to SILT,” Lyle Luzum of Decorah said. Luzum, who with his wife Sue donated his 170-acre heritage farm to SILT, now serves on the SILT board of directors. “This is a beautiful piece of land that will help secure the financial future of SILT while providing affordable opportunities to future food farmers in the Decorah area.”

There are almost no government or foundation grants that support this innovative work in Iowa. We are member supported. Your sustaining membership decides how many farmers and landowners we help next year. Please join today.