T.D. Holub (BA 2012) considers himself lucky in many ways—lucky for his experience growing up on a farm in Coggon, a small town north of Cedar Rapids, lucky to have attended the University of Iowa as a Hawkeye, and lucky to still be able to use those skills now as a sustainable farmer back in Coggon.
“Many people don’t have an agricultural background or access to farmland,” he said. “Since I’m lucky enough to have those things, I wanted to allow other people to have access to that, too.”
So he found a way to combine two things he loves—farming and nutrition. As a Health & Human Physiology major in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Holub loved studying all the elements of a holistically healthy human body, and was especially interested in nutrition.
Holub co-owns a business, TD n’ Guy Garden Oasis LLC, with friend and fellow Health & Human Physiology grad Dan Pilguy (BA 2012). Their eight-acre farm grows 40 different types of vegetables and carries over 100 varieties. They also sell free-range eggs and pasture-raised broilers. Now in their fourth year, they sell their whole foods through Community Supported Agriculture; at Independence and Iowa City Farmers’ Markets; and to local schools, grocery stores, and businesses.
With Holub’s knowledge of nutrition, he is able to confidently counsel customers who have questions about losing weight, reducing cholesterol, or lowering high blood pressure.
He also learned innumerable life skills that he carries with him now, such as communication skills, critical thinking, and the ability to step outside his comfort zone. These attributes—the essential hallmarks of a liberal arts education—are key to running his business now.
“It’s not about memorizing facts or passing tests,” he said. “It’s about learning the true aspects of a successful and full life.”
He knows he is making a difference every time he hears from a customer who thanks him for giving them access to high-quality foods to close to home. That access is especially valuable for residents of Coggon who aren’t able to make a weekly trip to the grocery due to age, disability, or other reasons.
Holub also speaks at local elementary schools, attending Career Day in Independence and Waterloo. Things that are second-nature to him are brand-new to many children he meets. Some children he met in Waterloo had never seen a farm before. One child asked Holub what kind of sunflower he would plant to get ranch-flavored seeds.
“It’s amazing to have the opportunity to speak to kids about what I do and get some letters back that say, ‘I want to be a farmer,’” he said. “I just imagined myself out in the fields, going to work—but here I am going to different schools. I never really wanted to step out of my comfort zone in high school. After my time at the University of Iowa, now that’s one of my favorite things to do.”