Some have asked, “How did the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association (ISCGA) come into existence?” For a short history lesson we have to go back to the Civil War period or the beginning of the Iowa State Horticultural Society (ISHS) founded in 1866. In the early years, the society’s members were mostly concerned with fruit and vegetable production and occasionally nursery stock. About 1900, several affiliated Iowa societies – Northeastern, Western, Southwestern, etc. began meeting with the ISHS in Des Moines. Over time, enterprises with like interests formed their own association under the ISHS umbrella. Today there are 24 affiliated organizations/associations with the ISHS. 

The Iowa Fruit Growers Association (IFGA) came into begin July 6, 1959, and Article V (expiration terms) indicated the association would terminate in 1984 (25 years after incorporation) unless sooner dissolved by a majority vote of all members. The initial membership dues were based on acres of fruit – $2.50 minimum for 10 acres of fruit or less plus $1.00 for each additional 10 acres of fruit or fraction thereof.

The Iowa Vegetable Growers Association (IVGA) was incorporated in 1962. The initial board members came from Swea City (Cecil Thoreson), Laurens (Lyle Nelson), Clear Lake (Jack Kennedy, Sam Kennedy, Armstrong (Leslie Hirt), St. Ansgar (C.C. Hansen) Muscatine (John Holiday) Perry (G.E. Roberts), Thompson (Eugene Horswell) and Garner (Bernard Engstler). The bylaws indicated annual dues to be $2.50 for 40 acres of vegetables or less with an added fee of $1.00 for each additional 40 acres. Interestingly, unlike the Fruit Growers, there was no article related to termination of the association. A further note: The executive board could waive the annual dues of any member “…who from ill health, advanced age or other valid reason is unable to pay.” 

Through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s the IVGA was largely inactive and conducted its annual business meeting with the Muscatine Island Truck Growers Association, which was the stronger association. This association has been in existence since 1935. 

In 1983 the IFGA and the IVGA decided it was in their mutual best interests to merge into one association, so the presidents of the two associations signed a consolidation agreement. IFVGA came into being in 1984. Over the years there was a growing interest from specialty producers and members who did not grow fruit and/or vegetables. Thus, in 2022, in an effort to grow the membership and strengthen the Association’s ability to promote Iowa grown fruits, vegetables and specialty crops and provide stronger advocacy for the industry, the board voted to change the name of the Association to the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association.

Today the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association continues to provide a pool of ideas and experiences that can be shared among growers that lead to effective problem solving and innovative growing practices. The association strives to strengthen specialty crop production in the state, benefit growers’ profitability, and ensure more and higher quality products to our consumers.