RC&D Partners with Local Cidery to Bring Mobile Cider Press to Northeast Iowa

Northeast Iowa is now home to a mobile juice production facility. The Driftless Mobile Juicing Service was made possible through a $480,000 Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant secured by Northeast Iowa RC&D from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the revitalization of Northeast Iowa’s orchards and the expansion of the local food economy by providing access to a mobile cider and juice press. 

The certified  juicing unit is self-contained in a travel trailer and will allow any orchard in Northeast Iowa to make and sell pasteurized or unpasteurized juice from a variety of fruits, including apples, pears, and berries. The pasteurized juice will be safe for drinking and the unpasteurized will be available for crafting hard ciders. 

“It’s pretty amazing,” says Josh Dansdill, director of business development projects for Northeast Iowa RC&D. “You put a fresh fruit in one end of the machine, and a bottle of saleable juice comes out the other.” The juicing unit will be the first of its kind in Iowa and one of only three in the United States. 

Natalie Naber of Convergence CiderWorks in Decorah was the catalyst behind bringing the juicing unit to Northeast Iowa. “As a cider maker, I prioritize using local ingredients whenever I can. This press will enable me to further incorporate local produce into my cider while supporting my neighboring small farmers who are protecting our local apple heritage.” 

Funding from the LFPP grant will also support education and training for orchardists as well as a regional branding and marketing campaign. Northeast Iowa RC&D will coordinate regional partnerships with orchards and farmers and will produce marketing and educational materials. Naber will serve as a project consultant, providing training and mentorship to both beginning orchardists and those looking to expand their offerings to include juice products.

“This is a win-win opportunity for our producers, consumers, and local communities,” says Dansdill. “Our small family farms have a way to expand, diversify, and sustain their business and make even more local food products available to their communities, all while reducing food waste by utilizing fruits that might otherwise be discarded.” 

Producers and orchardists interested in learning more about or renting the Driftless Mobile Juicing Service can contact Natalie Naber at convergencecider@gmail.com or (563) 277-1029.

For more information on the Local Food Promotion Program, contact Josh Dansdill at josh@northeastiowarcd.org or (563) 864-7112.