Sunset Harvest Farm of Guttenberg part of RX FARM-ACY program

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Sunset Harvest Farm proprietors Shannon Knaack (left) and Sara Davis are providing fresh produce for the GMHC RX FARM-ACY Prescription Program. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Sunset Harvest Farm, LLC is a small-scale sustainable vegetable farm cared for by cousins Sara Davis and Shannon Knaack of Clayton County. The ambitious duo is excited to be part of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC) RX FARM-ACY Prescription Program. 

The pilot program, which started the first week in July and will end in October, is designed to provide weekly fresh produce to individuals with healthcare issues who  could respond favorably to the addition of fresh vegetables in their diet.  "This program filled up quickly! Those participating will be given recipes with produce to see what health impacts this may have," explained Kari Harbaugh, GMHC Family Resource Center Director. 

Free Taste It! program 

As an added bonus RX FARM-ACY Prescription Program is offering free nutrition education programs: "Taste It!" Fresh from the farm produce: taste it and learn how to prepare it!

Kay Vifian, Nature Haven Farm Inc., will share tips, recipes and substitutions with an opportunity to taste using locally grown produce from Sunset Harvest Farm. 

The informative program will be held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12 noon at the Guttenberg Municipal Building, 502 South First Street in Guttenberg, from July 11 - Oct. 10. 

The first cousins' half-acre garden is located on land that has been owned by the Davis family for over 50 years. "Our uncle, Rich Davis, effortlessly and generously relinquished land that he used to grow hay for his cattle. He has been very supportive," they shared. 


Grant money, through the State of Iowa's Local Food Purchase Assistance Program (LFPAP), that connects rural communities to healthy food from local farmers, was instrumental in the creation of Sunset Harvest Farm. 

"Our mentor, Natasha Hegmann, Turkey River Farm & Greenhouse co-owner, suggested we apply for the post-Covid grant," they noted, "We were directed to contact the Food Hub in Decorah, and Kari Harbaugh at the Family Resource Center in Guttenberg. We had already been donating overflow vegetables to the resource center's food pantry during previous growing seasons." Team effort

The RX FARM-ACY program works with GMHC providers and dietitians to create recommendations for individuals experiencing health problems. "Everyone is working together to encourage people to consume more fresh vegetables. Our job is to grow and deliver fresh vegetables to the center for pick up," they explained.

The hard-working women hope the program encourages healthy eating so area residents can avoid some of the health concerns that are attributed to a poor diet, and hope to add a kid's education day in the future.

Local growers working together

Growing a garden in northeast Iowa can be a challenge. "We are grateful for Phelps Farm, Turkey River Farm, and Nature Haven Farm that can help fill in gaps creating more variety for the RX FARM-ACY program," they said. 

Sara and Shannon expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to serve their community. "We are gaining so much knowledge because of this opportunity and building infrastructure for Sunset Harvest Farm moving forward," said Sara. 

"My children, Priya and Abel, are being introduced to gardening, and the many benefits of healthy eating. They are actually eating a few more vegetables also," Shannon laughed. 

"We get a lot of help from friends and family. Without their support this project would not be possible," they shared with gratitude. 

Artistic inspiration

The garden also inspired Sara's Sunflower Ceramic Impression series, which, along with her "Of Service Stoneware" was awarded the People's Choice Award at Elkader's Art in the Park in 2022. 

Shannon was also inspired to raise Guinea hens. "We use them for organic bug control. They are tenacious hunters, but they don't destroy the vegetables," she commented. 

The cousins are happy to report they are getting along well. "We make a great team! We bring a different set of skills and assets that really work well together," they concluded.

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