Iowa's Best Kept Secret

posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Artisans teach a variety of workshops in this renovated and charming barn at Three Pines Farm in Cedar Falls

(photo courtesy Three Pines Farm - Artisans teach classes in this renovated and charming barn)

Travel through the scenic countryside north of Cedar Falls, past prairies and cornfields, and standing proudly at the crest of a hill, there it is – Three Pines Farm

How fitting Iowa’s best kept secret is on a heritage farm.  Three Pines Farm is a fifth-generation family farm, rich with character, much like the family and friends who have shaped it over the years.   Established in 1856 by Norman and Jane Rundles, it is now where Kara Grupp (the great-great granddaughter of Norman and Jane) and her young family reside, and where they are shaping a new direction for this historic farmstead…

The farmstead itself is a charming picture of idyllic Iowa farm life… a big red barn dating to the mid-1800s still stands at the center of it all, with a little brick farmhouse to the north, and a couple of smaller, quaint barns to the south.   One of those smaller barns pops out from the rest… with its unique brick walls and French doors, it immediately catches your eye… but it is what you don’t see that is even more special.

Artisan teach an array of classes throughout the year at Three Pines Farm in Cedar Falls

(photo courtesy Three Pines Farm)

It’s what’s inside that counts, they say, and that holds true for this endearing little barn.  Walk through the doors and you will find yourself in a serene cultural-community hub unlike any other.   It’s a studio space where artisans from across the road, or across the world, come to teach, to share their knowledge and passion for their artistry.  It’s a space where people from near and far come to learn, to connect with skills of the past and present, to connect with others, and to connect with a deeper sense of self through the art of the slow.  It’s a place of supporting artisans, and a place of building community. 

All of this is accomplished through community events, farm-to-table dining experiences, and many hands-on workshops.   The workshops at Three Pines Farm are impressively diverse, and have ranged from cheesemaking, botanical illustration, soap making, bookbinding, weaving, specialty baking & culinary classes, kintsugi (a 15th century Japanese ceramic repair technique), apple tree grafting, and silver jewelry-making.  The 2017 schedule offers more eclectic offerings with an impressive array of artisan-educators from both near and far.  

Cheesemaking at Three Pines Farm in Cedar Falls

(photo courtesy Three Pines Farm - Cheesemaking)

“It’s a magical thing when you gather people together and experience learning in such a dynamic way.  It is such a joyful way to learn new skills, and to learn from those so expert in their fields; there really is no substitute for that.”, says Grupp, who directs the educational mission of the studio at Three Pines Farm.  “But, what I value the most is seeing the friendships forged through our experiences here at Three Pines.  We have had the most wonderful people come through our doors since opening 2 years ago.  I have been amazed at the goodness of it all.” 

2017 Schedule
(with more to come)


Intro to Artisan Sourdough Bread with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Jan 7)

Pine Needle Basketry with artist De Segar (Jan 14)

Intro to Natural Beekeeping with author Michael Bush (Jan 20)

Soapmaking 101 & Dog Days of Winter with Ann Staudt of Siberian Soap Co. (Jan 28)


Pate a Choux: A Pastry for the  Sweet & the Savory  (Feb 4)

Cheese 101 with Lois Reichert of Reichert’s Dairy Air (Feb 18)


The Art of Shibori: An Introduction with Daniel Gundlach of the Language of Cloth (Mar 4-5)

Intro to Artisan Sourdough Bread with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Mar 11)

Broom Making with Shannon Bardole of Franklin Broom Works (Mar 25)


Intro to Letterpress Printing with Danielle Ameling of Iron Leaf Press (Apr 2)

Artisan Flatbreads: Naan & Pita with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Apr 8)

Sami-Inspired Bracelet Workshop with artist Norma Refsal (Apr 29)


Mother’s Day Petite Cakes Workshop with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (May 13)

Kyphi: Making an Ancient Egyptian Incense with Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy (May 20)

Summer: Varied Dining & Community Events


Bavarian-Style Pretzels & Mustard with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Sept 30)


Slow Textiles Retreat with Katrina Rodabaugh and Sasha Duerr: Sashiko Mending & Natural Dyes (Oct 13-15)

Savory Artisan Breads with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Oct 28)


The Decorated Cookie: A Workshop with Vicky Dunn of C’est la V Bakery (Nov 11)

Three Pines Farm in Cedar Falls offers an array of classes including Pine Needle Basketry

(photo courtesy - Three Pines Farm - Pine Needle Basketry)

More Information

What: Three Pines Farm

Where: 9611 Wagner Rd., Cedar Falls, Iowa

Contact: email: kara@threepinesfarm.org, phone: (319) 404-2942

Social Media: Facebook and Instagram: @three_pines_farm

Website: www.threepinesfarm.org 


Thank you to our guest blogger, Kate Williams. She has captured what makes Three Pines Farm a special place. 

As always, if you would like assistance in planning a trip to Cedar Falls, either for your family or a group of friends, the Cedar Falls Visitor Center would be happy to help. We're located at 6510 Hudson Road and we can be reached at 800-845-1955 or 319-268-4266. 

Summer events at Three Pines Farm in Cedar Falls include a variety of dining and community events.

(photo courtesy Three Pines Farm - summer at the farm means dining and community events)

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