Using a high tunnel allows Rob Faux to extend his growing season, but it was also in the path of the spray in 2012 when an airplane accidentally dumped pesticides on his organic crops. The crops had to be destroyed and the fields and the produce in them couldn’t be re-certified as organic for three years, in 2015. This photo was taken April 29, 2016.

Sidebar: Organic Certification And Pesticide Drift

Organic farm certification is automatically reinstated after three years without additional chemical impacts. The three-year window is the same as the requirement that land, upon initial organic certification, must go through a three-year period in which no non-organic products are applied.

A corn field in Jasper County, Iowa is shown circa 1939.

Iowa History: State Fair of 1868: Gloomy, But Motivational

Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager. She is the author of four non-fiction books for young people. Double Victory was featured on C-SPAN’s “Book TV” and The Industrial Revolution for Kids was selected for “Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.” Her most recent book, Women in Blue traces the evolution of women in policing. Visit her website at:

The Iowa State Fair of 1868, the 15th annual, was a disappointment in some ways.

The Iowa Capitol is shown May 31, 2016.

News Quiz: Relationship between Iowa and China

Gov. Terry Branstad said in a summer IowaWatch interview that Iowa needs to maintain trade relationships with China and get good business deals with partners in that country. Iowa has built significant economic and diplomatic relationships with China since the 1980s. Find out in this news quiz how much you know about Iowa-Chinese relations.

An American Red Cross nurse at a railroad station in St. Etienne, helping wounded soldiers in July 1918.

Iowa History: Iowa’s Gold Star Women

“There is a handsome bronze tablet in the Army and Navy building in Washington, memorializing the mules and horses who died in the war; but nowhere is there found a record of the women who died,” declared Helen C. Courtney, a member of the Women’s Overseas Service League. The organization led an effort to establish a memorial for women who died in World War I, including a list of 161 names of “gold star women.” Among the names were several Iowans.

Chelsea Keenan (front left) and Lee Hermiston (right) are shown at their desks in  The Gazette's Cedar Rapids office on July 29, 2016

Inside The Reporter’s Notebook: Gazette Series Humanizes, Raises Awareness Of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is growing nationwide, and eastern Iowa is no exception with more than 61 non-fatal overdoses and 21 deaths in 2015. Cedar Rapids Gazette healthcare reporter Chelsea Keenan and public safety reporter Lee Hermiston spoke with IowaWatch intern Brittany Robb about their stories that formed part of an in-depth look at the epidemic in The Gazette‘s June 2016 series, “Heroin’s Hold In Iowa.”

Eugene Ely, photo circa 1911

Iowa History: Iowa’s World-Known Air King

“Eugene Ely Fatally Injured in Airship Accident.” In July 1910 newspaper headlines announced the death of the Iowa native. However, it turned out the reports were greatly exaggerated.

A postcard from around 1900 shows the Iowa Institution for the Education of the Blind in Vinton, Iowa.

Iowa History: Gov. Shaw Wants Salary Increase

Iowa’s Governor Leslie M. Shaw delivered his annual message to the legislature and the citizens of the state in January 1900. He had a number of items on his mind, and he wasn’t shy about making his ideas known. The text of his speech was splashed in newspapers throughout the state.


News Quiz: Scams Targeting The Elderly

A recent IowaWatch report reveals that many elderly people have become scammers’ easy targets and lost billions of dollars in the past several years. Take this news quiz and find out how much you know about financial scams that target seniors, and how to deal with them.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Iowa Cubs owner and president Michael Gartner explains the story behind a bottle of wine Major League Hall of Fame member Ryne Sandberg gave him when Sandberg was the Iowa Cubs' manager. Photo taken July 13, 2016, in Gartner's office at Principal Park in Des Moines.

IowaWatch Connection Podcast: Winning Pulitzer An “Obituary Changer” In Already Notable Career

Michael Gartner received the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 1997 for editorials published in The Daily Tribune in Ames. He was co-owner and editor of the newspaper at the time. The Pulitzer board praised his “common sense editorials” for covering “issues deeply affecting the lives of people in his community,” including local issues ranging from ordinances controlling where signs could be placed to a proposed lap dancing law.