Forum for the Future of Fairfield

How other Iowa communities are solving challenges like those facing Fairfield.

Josh Mandelbaum, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Des Moines City Councilman
Gina Bell, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Dubuque
Jeff Geerts, Iowa Economic Development Association, West Union Green Streets Initiative
Merry Rankin, Joint Sustainability Director for the City of Ames and the Iowa State University

Sponsored in part by: The City of Fairfield, Fairfield Resiliency Project, Southeast Iowa Sierra Club, Humanities Iowa*, Iowa Sierra Club, Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, Seven Roses Inn, Sustainable Living Coalition, Fairfield Accounting Services, Fairfield Food Collective, AERON Community Task Force

SILT Celebration of the Anderson Prairie Farm

Jim and Sara Anderson’s farm is the first SILT protected farm in Jefferson County. Sara and Jim will live and enjoy their land, and after they pass Sustainable Iowa Land Trust will already hold the deed. The land will be made available to a farm family to grow nutrient-dense food for residents of Jefferson County.

The Fairfield Stategic Conservation and Community Resilience Plan

SLC Executive Director, Bob Ferguson, interviews Southeast Iowa Sierra Club President Anne Walton, discussing the future direction of Fairfield Iowa guided by the Strategic Conservation and Community Resilience Plan.

The Ethics & Economics of Sustainable Agriculture – A Conversation With Dr. John Ikerd

Today we speak with Dr. John Ikerd, a professor emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics at the University of Missouri, on issues surrounding industrial agriculture and how we must live as a society to live within the bounds of nature.

Your Garbage Made A Bench

Your Garbage Made A Bench

It is nearly the two-year anniversary of the TerraCycle Fairfield project. Over the last two years, Fairfield residents have collected and recycled nearly 8,000 traditionally non-recyclable products, as well as thousands of pounds of e-waste, batteries, lightbulbs, and plastic bags. By recycling everything from old razors and toothbrushes to printers and cellphones, local residents have helped make Fairfield the world’s first-ever TerraCycle Town, a community centered around zero-waste principles.

TerraCycle Inc. is a multinational corporation that has developed recycling solutions for every sort of waste. Yes, you read that correctly—the company claims that every product can and should be recycled at the end of its useful life, a practice they call “zero-waste” living. The TerraCycle Fairfield initiative is a local effort to provide access to these recycling methods and to offer education on green principles, making sustainable lifestyle choices easy and accessible.

Since its inception, the TerraCycle Fairfield project has been working closely with directors from TerraCycle Inc. to help Fairfield make strides toward a more sustainable economy. To commemorate Fairfield’s success, TerraCycle Inc. has donated a park bench made entirely of recycled material.

“We are proud to acknowledge Fairfield as the world’s first TerraCycle town,” said TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky. “Their passion for recycling and their desire to reduce their environmental footprint is impressive. We hope other towns follow in their footsteps.”

The bench was unveiled at a celebration and fundraiser on Saturday, May 1, at 10 a.m. in Howard Park. All were invited to hear Fairfield Mayor Connie Boyer speak, meet with Rotary’s Interact volunteers and TerraCycle Fairfield coordinators, and celebrate Fairfield’s accomplishments with food and beverages.

The bench serves an educational purpose as well. Made from recycled materials, it provides a glimpse into what the future of waste looks like: one where every item is recycled at the end of its life into materials for reuse in new products. This is often referred to as a circular economic model: one in which all of the waste products from production are captured and fed back into the economy for new products.

This is a high bar, but Fairfield is the perfect testing ground to refine and pave the way for the “green transition” to unfold. If you are passionate about building a life-supporting and ecologically friendly community, or have an interest in sustainability in general, we encourage you to reach out to us at We’re always looking for more community partners. You can also meet with us in person at the bench unveiling and ask questions about the project, share your ideas for Fairfield’s future, or participate in any way you wish.

Photographer, Explorer and Climate Activist, David Thoreson at the SLC Eco Barn

In this video SLC Executive Director, Bob Ferguson,  interviews celebrated photographer, sailor and explorer, David Thoreson. David has sailed 77,000 miles to document what is happening to our oceans and the arctic ecology as climate change and human activity alters our planet. He held a crowd of 350 spellbound at the Sondheim Theater here in Fairfield. We are proud that the SLC was one of the co-sponsors of the event. Bob caught up with David at the SLC Eco Barn and had this heartfelt conversation.

Leland Searles – On Developing an Ecological Farming Ethic

SLC Executive Director, Bob Ferguson, interviews professor emeritus, Iowa State University, on developing an ecological farming ethic to address the pressing issues of soil quality, soil erosion, and water quality that Iowa and the Midwest are facing.

Russ Conser, CEO of Grassfed Exchange on Iowa Policy

For fifteen years Russ was the head of Shell Oil’s GameChanger program whose mission was to deliver innovative options that have the potential to drastically impact the energy future. He is now Founder and CEO of and CEO of the Grassfed Exchange.

Dr. Ray Meylor on Restorative Farming at the Eco Barn