Announcing their intention to place their farm under a SILT easement, Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice of Red Fern Farm in Wapello hosted nearly 30 people at the final SILT Showcase of the year. Tom and Kathy grow chestnuts, paw paws, persimmons and ever-bearing mulberries among other perennial crops. A SILT easement is a land protection agreement that attaches to the deed and requires all future owners of the land to use it for sustainable food production.

“Our kids haven’t shown any interest in taking over this farm,” explained Kathy to the crowd, “but even if they did, I’d want to know they were treating it the same way we have.” Tom and Kathy, who are also founders of SILT, said they decided not to get an appraisal because they won’t be tapping any tax incentives. They just want the peace of mind that a SILT easement will give them, citing among other things the fact that some chestnut trees can live as long as 2,000 years.

Executive Director Sheila Knoploh-Odole, who is an attorney, and Appraiser Dan Dvorak presented information about options for land protection and the effects on land value. The day included a farm tour and a meal of locally-sourced food such as venison, paw paws and chestnuts from Red Fern.

Discussing paw paws.

Looking at a heartnut.

Japanese walnuts – heart nuts – shell easily.

Tom discusses the benefits of heartnuts.

Checking out chestnut

Tom and Kathy discuss the history of their orchard.

As the temperature climbed, the orchard was a great place to stand.

Dan Dvorak of Iowa Appraisals presents information about land values.

Piling in to head over to the orchard.

Getting cozy!

Tom demonstrates the Nut Wizard.

Kathy shows the crowd a paw paw.

A young family looking for answers for their family lad in Illinois.