Even with farming roots dating back to the 1850s, it doesn't mean you are going to be involved in agriculture. One northeast Iowa farmer found his way back to his roots through experimenting and lack of access to a mushroom.

Reconnected Farms LLC in Dorchester decided to experiment with vertical growing and fungi. This new venture helped Reconnected Farms' Tanner Sanness to be named the first-place winner of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) “Grow Your Future” Award.

I was in college when I heard a podcast about the health benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms. I wasn’t involved in farming at all at the time. When I couldn’t find them locally, I bought a grow kit.

Since then, the mushroom-growing operation has expanded. Sanness now grows 300 to 500 pounds of mushrooms per week. His mushrooms can be found in farmers' markets, grocery stores, and restaurants in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The Grow Your Future Award is offered to Iowa Farm Bureau Federation members between 18 and 35 who are entrepreneurs. First, second, and third-place finalists received $7,500, $5000, and $2,500 to expand their businesses.

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The second-place prize went to Matt Vermeersch of Mud Ridge Ranch in Pottawattamie County who raises and sells Scottish Highland cattle. Annie Palmer of H8R Acres LLC in Warren County was awarded the third-place prize for her purebred Berkshire hogs and Navajo Churro Sheep operation.

Sanness plans to use his $7,500 winnings to purchase a delivery van and walk-in cooler.

On top of mushrooms, Reconnected Farms also grows organic crops and pasture-raised poultry.

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