By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Without doubt, Kinnick Stadium is the most popular venue in Iowa on seven fall Saturdays. From Sunday to Friday, however, that distinction could belong to Kroul Farms, located south of Mount Vernon.
Whether you’re looking for pumpkins, tomatoes, firewood, flowering plants, eggs, or other produce, chances are, it’s available at Kroul Farms. While you’re there, you might recognize a former University of Iowa football player.
Matt Kroul, who played on the Hawkeye defensive line from 2005-08, has experienced the rewards of laboring at both Kinnick Stadium and Kroul Farms. His life has transitioned from farm fields to football field and back to farm fields. After his college and professional football career, he now resides in Solon with his wife and three children and manages most aspects of the family farm.
When Iowa football takes on Penn State on Oct. 12 in the annual America Needs Farmers Game presented by Iowa Farm Bureau, Kroul will be recognized as its eighth ANF Wall of Honor recipient.
“I enjoy the whole adage of reap what you sow and the work you put in is what you get,” Kroul said. “Some days aren’t fun, some plays or games won’t go well, some workouts don’t go your way, but, especially this last six months and the way farming is, just adapt, overcome, and succeed.”
Previous Wall of Honorees are Aaron Kampman (2018), Chad Greenway (2017), Dallas Clark (2016), Robert Gallery (2015), Bruce Nelson (2104), Jared DeVries (2013), and Casey Wiegmann (2012).
When Kroul was growing up, the family raised 150 beef cattle and farmed nearly 500 acres of row crops. By the mid-1980s (Matt was born in 1986), the farm crisis reached its peak and the Krouls looked for a more profitable way to utilize their land. With rolling hills near a river bank, theirs wasn’t prime row crop ground.
“We jumped into pumpkins, sweet corn, tomatoes,” Kroul said. “We diversified in a way and didn’t beat our head against the door with corn and soybeans. They are still a valuable part of what we do, but we use these other options to maximize our acres.”
A four-time member of Iowa’s football leadership group, Kroul started a school-record 50 consecutive games. He made 238 tackles with seven sacks and was named team captain (2008), Academic All-Big Ten, second-team All-Big Ten (2008 by media) and honorable mention All-Big Ten (2008 by coaches and 2007 by media).
From 2005-08, the Hawkeyes played in three bowl games, and capped a nine-win season in 2008 with a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl.
From 2009-11, Kroul was a member of the New York Jets, playing six games in 2010.
“Coach (Kirk) Ferentz is one of the best at preparing young men for life after college, not only if you have an opportunity in the NFL,” Kroul said.
In Kroul’s case, that meant life in the NFL and life as a farmer.
“Farmers are farmers for a reason,” Kroul said. “They like being their own boss, it’s your own schedule, and you get out of it what you put into it. Agriculture and football are cut from the same cloth. It is the root of what Iowa is all about, and that is agriculture and the Hawkeyes.”
“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Matt join the ranks of the ANF Wall of Honorees,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President and farmer, Craig Hill. “Farming is a calling and the farmers I know have the same passion that Matt does in putting in the effort to take care of the land and participate in your community. He’s a great role model with a winning attitude.”
Matt and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters (Leighton, age 4, and Jacie, 1) and a son (Brady, 3). The Krouls intend to pass down the farming work ethic…soon.
“They are just getting to where they can keep up,” Kroul said. “Hopefully I have some pumpkin and tomato pickers soon.”
About the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is the largest statewide, grassroots farm organization in Iowa, celebrating more than 100 years of creating a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families and their communities. For more information, click HERE.
Iowa football hosts Minnesota in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale on Saturday, Nov. 16. Fans are encouraged to wear black for the Blackout game, and it is the annual military appreciation celebration. Active duty military and veterans are eligible for a military ticket discount. Click HERE for tickets and pre-paid parking and additional game information.