It’s a typical day for Susan Young. She’s standing in the barn telling someone she just met about her llamas. A baby goat trots up and starts chewing on her pant leg. But she’s unphased.

“They protect the goats from the coyotes that go creeping by in the nighttime,” Young finishes. “They’re valuable to me.”

But it’s not just the llamas that are valuable. This is the place she loves.

Just 6 miles southwest of Iowa City, Lucky Star Farm is home to all kinds of creatures. Chickens and ducks wander on the grassy hillside. Turkeys live in a coop near the driveway. Mama goats and their babies occupy the barn, llamas standing guard. Male goats and llamas reside in the back pasture.

The farm has grown since they bought it 12 years ago. Initially, they sold chicken eggs at farmers markets. But they didn’t stop there.

After transitioning to an egg delivery service, Young began building relationships with customers. She listened to what else they wanted.

This meant turkeys soon joined the farm.

Each year they raise broad breasted white and heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving. Broad breasted turkeys are typically found in a supermarket, but the heritage turkeys are unique. They are difficult to find.

“I have customers that come all the way across the state of Iowa to pick up their heritage turkey,” Young said.

The newest venture is duck eggs. Lucky Star sells them to an upscale local restaurant for their “duck egg tagliatelle” dish.

“It’s just another fun way to connect the food that we grow on our farm to maybe a different part of the community,” she said.

And that’s what Young is all about. Community. It’s more than just raising animals. It’s about sharing the farm with others. Through food, education or experiences, Lucky Star is a megaphone getting people thinking about agriculture.

“We found an opportunity to maybe broaden people’s vision of what farms and agriculture in Iowa could look like,” she said. “Not every farmer in Iowa is an old man in overalls, and not every farm in Iowa has acres and acres of corn and soybeans.”

Young breaks the stereotype. She wants to reconnect people with food. Get them to better understand their choices in the grocery store and beyond. Her farm has a different approach to agriculture.

“It looks more like diversity,” she said. “It’s trying to live in a sustainable way that makes the land better instead of taking from the land.”

But it doesn’t come without its challenges. Today’s agricultural landscape doesn’t place emphasis on small farmers like Young. She said it can be difficult to find support.

“Oftentimes, if you want to do something different, like grow organically, you have to jump through many hoops,” Young said, “So it feels like the system is just a little bit backwards, to do things in a more healthy way.”

And she’s hoping to change that. Getting more people on the farm increases awareness. Outsiders can see the benefits of diversity and sustainability on a small scale.

The farm pulls in people from multiple states, countries and ages. They host students on class trips. Animal lovers can get up close with the herd during goat yoga sessions. For a longer visit, Lucky Star offers overnight stays in their Airbnb.

“I think that agritourism in Iowa is just going to continue to climb,” she said. “As we look towards the future of our own farm, we continue to move in directions that will enable us to create more experiences on the farm.”

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