The newest commercial vegetable and specialty crop specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach knows the needs and concerns of the industry.
Dan Fillius, who began his new role June 7, has spent the last three years as a produce safety specialist, helping fruit and vegetable producers comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to share the successes and collaborations that professional growers are already having, and the research-based solutions available at Iowa State," Fillius says.
Fillius joined the Safe Produce team at ISU in 2018 and has interacted with growers across the state, helping them understand and implement food safety measures. Additionally, he has managed vegetable farms for the past 13 years.
"We are delighted to have Dan in our horticulture team," says Ajay Nair, ISU associate professor in horticulture and an Extension vegetable production specialist. "Dan brings in a lot of working experience in vegetables and specialty crops. He has made some great connections with Iowa growers. We are excited to team with Dan to assist our growers with their production-related challenges [soil fertility, integrated pest management, high tunnel production, weed management and greenhouse crops]."
Fillius will work with other members of the horticulture team to develop new educational and hands-on programs through field days, workshops, short courses and in-person grower visits. He says the state continues to see a strong demand for vegetable and specialty crop production, especially as more landowners look for ways to diversify their crops and become more resilient in the marketplace.
He says Iowa has untapped potential for its specialty crops, including crops grown with season-extending technologies, such as high tunnels.
Fillius came to ISU after four growing seasons as the field production coordinator at Featherstone Farm in Rushford, Minn. Prior to working in Minnesota, he managed the Student Organic Farm at Michigan State University. In Iowa, he started Middlebrook Farm in Cumming in 2019.
For more information, Fillius can be reached at 319-551-7200 or [email protected].