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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, released at the end of 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. In the spring of 2021, she posted nine of her more significant programs on Vimeo where she felt they would be best showcased. They are listed in video index on this site. Helen also continues to have nearly 90 posted on YouTube on three different channels: DCG1918Gunderfriend, and RReveille.

Helen’s most popular YouTube post (over 129,000 hits), 1970s Farming,  consists of home movies, filmed in the 1970s, of her father and neighborhood men and their farming activities. Her most significant YouTube video project in recent years includes two programs created from 1990 footage of Rolfe High School’s last graduating class (Class ActivitiesClass Interview). 

Completed December 2020 and Available Now

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.

UPDATE (April 5,2021)
Helen has distributed the last of the 100 sets of her book that she had printed and bound at the end of 2020. She is considering ordering a second run of the book but will decide on a plan in which she probably will wait until a sufficient number of people commit to buying the book before she places her order. Check back for further information about her plans. If interested in obtaining a set of the books, write to her and tell her your intentions. Thanks.

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.




GF Thoughts

Growing Food and the Meaning of Land

After producing a video, Growing a Rural Homeplace on Urban Land, for the City of Ames eco chat about gardening on March 2, 2021, I thought I should prepare a document with supplemental information to help others interested in growing food.

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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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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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