Helen D. Gunderson dba


"I feel privileged to be able to shape what I see into works of art and share them with other people. Whatever the medium of artistic expression, I hope that some of what I produce is soulful and helps others reflect on life beneath the surface of things."

— Helen D. Gunderson

Helen Gunderson - Self Portrait
Helen D. Gunderson 2020

Helen D. Gunderson

Helen Gunderson - Self Portrait
Helen D. Gunderson 2020


Helen is an urban farmer; an advocate for the use of locally grown food; a bread baker with a passion to share baked goods, other homemade food such as bread and butter pickles, and garden produce; friend to four cats and nine laying hens; steward of farmland in northwest Iowa; photographer; videographer; and author of a 2020 book that had been 30 years in the making. She lives in Ames, Iowa, and uses the business name of Gunderfriend Productions, which she first adopted in the late 1980s while continuing to live in northern California after graduating from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Helen Baking Cooking
Helen bakes bread

Her book, The Road I Grew Up On: Requiem for a Vanishing Era, to be released in November 2020, is a two-volume anthology written from a liberal perspective and consists of regional and neighborhood history, personal memoir, spiritual insights, other opinions, and photographs.

Car on road in the 1940s
circa 1949

Helen edited another book, Rolfe Alumni Perspectives. The spiral-bound print version, published in 2000, is a collection of essays by students, alumni, friends, and faculty of her home town high school and includes many photos. The essays are available on the Rolfe alumni website Helen created in 1999.

She also produced several video programs. Many are posted on YouTube, where Helen has three channels: DCG1918Gunderfriend, and RReveille.

Helen’s most popular post (over 123,000 hits), 1970s Farming,  consists of home movies, filmed in the 1970s, of her father and neighborhood men farming. Her most significant video productions in recent years include two programs created from 1990 footage of Rolfe High School’s last graduating class (Class ActivitiesClass Interview) and an essay about women in agriculture that uses voices and images from Helen’s archives along with images of modern day women involved in agriculture.

Coming November 2020

The Road I Grew Up On:

Requiem for a Vanishing Era

Helen’s book, The Road I Grew Up On: Requiem for a Vanishing Era, is a two-volume anthology written from a liberal perspective and consists of regional and neighborhood history, personal memoir, spiritual insights, other opinions, and both grayscale and color photographs. The seeds for the project were sown in fall 1989 followed by years of Helen’s taking photographs, shooting video footage, recording interviews, conducting other research, and writing about the neighborhood and culture where she grew up. The first volume (344 pages) consists of material completed in 2004, while the second volume (196 pages) consists of chapters written in 2019 and one completed on July 31, 2020, about living in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The price for the two-volume set of the 11×8.5 inch paperback books is $80, which is the cost per set to print and bind 100 sets for the first edition.

Helen is considering donating copies to the public libraries in Ames and her home county. If interested in obtaining more information about the book, including ordering information, please contact Helen.

On the afternoon of December 31, 2020, Kori Heuss, owner of Heuss Printing in Ames, emailed Helen to say that the run of 100 sets of the two-volume book had been completed. Later, Kori delivered a set to Helen’s home while the remaining 99 wait in boxes at the printing company for due attention in the new year, hopefully mailing or delivering the first batch of orders by January 8. The books look great, and the photographs were reproduced exceptionally well. The project has been a marathon but worth the investment of time and nervous energy waiting for the finished product.

books IMG_6094 l3 1500 w

The Iowa State University Parks Library Digital Press has posted the two volumes of Helen’s book on its Internet server, and the public can access them free of charge.  
Volume One    Volume Two

When you go to one of the book sites, have patience while getting a feel for how the university’s software for on-line books in PDF format works. The best strategy in Windows 10 seems to be: 

1. Avoid using the blue “download PDF” button under the title of the book because that could mean downloading 152 megabytes for Volume One and 73 megabytes for Volume Two. That’s fine if you want an entire book, but it will take several minutes and the whole book will not be as easy to navigate as going to individual chapters.

digital press abc

2. Instead click on the blue-lettered “chapters” link toward the bottom of the page. It will take you to a list of the chapters for that volume. Click on the chapter you want to read. You will come to a summary page for that chapter. Click on the blue “download chapter” button. 

3. Find the a small white box just above the Windows start button in the extreme lower left of your monitor. It will contain the name of the file. Choose an option such as “open in system viewer.” Enjoy sampling or reading the entire chapter. 

digital press xyzxx

4. When you are ready to find other chapters, go back to the browser tab for that chapter and under the lefthand image of the book, click the blue menu button that says “Back to The Road I Grew Up On …” And from there, choose the blue-lettered “chapters” link again.




Helen D. Gunderson

Gratitude Day 2020

As a single person, who is keeping a great deal of social distance as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps surging, my Thanksgiving connections and food were of as fine a quality as anyone in more conventional family circumstances or a less troublesome era could have experienced.

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Helen D. Gunderson

The Hawk and My Chickens

My five laying hens were making a huge ruckus. I thought maybe they were eager to get away to areas with more green vegetation. But when I threw some collard greens to the layers, they paid no attention. They continued to press against the fence.

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Helen at Urban Farm
Helen D. Gunderson

Pickled Beets and Hymns in the Kitchen

There are beets in the refrigerator that I have just cooked and peeled. I wash the stainless steel stock pot that I used to cook the beets. I glance out the window. There is an evening glow following a day of gray skies, thunder, lightening, and a soaker rain.

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