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      Hometown Farmer: Sawmill Hollow

      If you stop by Sawmill Hollow in Harrison County, Iowa, you might have to be lucky to catch Andrew Pittz at home.The self-proclaimed "Farmer-in-Chief" is a very busy guy."We thought 207 plants were a chore, but we're doing tens of thousands of plants now," said Pittz.Andrew makes his living working with aronia berry plants.And even though the plants are native to Iowa, when his family started growing those original 207 about 20 years ago, they were really something special."(Those plants) were the first in the United States that were done with the intent of farming," said Pittz.And since the plants aren't very common, you might not know what they look like.The berries Andrew is growing are small and a black/purplish color."It's a little bit sweeter than a wine grape, but not anywhere near as sweet as a blueberry," said Pittz. "And the composition of the berry kind of says it all."Even though you might not have heard of the aronia berry before now, Andrew's trying to change that.Mainly by himself.With a lot of driving."I planted aronia berries in all 99 counties of Iowa and I propagated them all off of the original 207," said Pittz, pointing to the original plants on his farm.Andrew's family has 42 different products made out of the berries, and his in-person sales pitch is why you might see them the next time you're at Hy-Vee."Now they're in 137 Hy-Vees and I've visited all of them personally," said Pittz with a smile. "I've driven to every one of them."The berries are high in anti-oxidants, and at Sawmill Hollow you'll find them in everything from chili starter to wine."We do make a unique Iowa aronia berry wine," said Pittz.It's made with the help of the La Vida Loca Winery in Indianola, Iowa."They've got a great winery and we've got a great berry and we're able to co-label that product together," said Pittz.It's a way for one unique Iowa berry business to help out another."That's the example of what it is to stay small but still have a significant impact and make a difference," said Pittz.Sawmill Hollow has a recipe relay coming up soon and a festival in September.You can find out more about everything Sawmill Hollow here: http://sawmillhollow.com/Or here: https://www.facebook.com/sawmillhollowIf you know of anyone that would be good to be featured on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com
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