Kickstarter Success Story

Today is a great day for DUG...I checked the business bank account and our Kickstarter funds were deposited!  Waking up to over $20,000 extra dollars is a great feeling! Yes, that money is already spent, but I'm still ecstatic.  The whole experience with the Kickstarter campaign has been a roller coaster of emotions, yet through and through I have felt such pride in the DUG community.  

Here is a recap of what was accomplished by our 30 day Kickstarter campaign:

  • $27,750 raised
  • 185% of our $15,000 goal
  • 320 backers
  • Average pledge amount is $86
  • 2,615 people viewed our Kickstarter video

Once again, I want to thank each of you for all you have done to help us through our struggles with Polk County.  The farm was thrown a curve ball, but it seems like we have been able to connect and hit it out of the park (forgive my attempt at a baseball analogy)!

So many of you were a part of making our Kickstarter campaign successful.  Here are some ways you helped to, “Let DUG Grow”:

  • Pledged money
  • Shared our story
  • Wrote emails/called Polk county in support of the farm
  • Words of support
  • Volunteered your services

A lot has happened since completion of the Kickstarter campaign.  A few days after the campaign ended our site plan was given the “okay” by Polk County.  That meant we were able to start pulling permits (for septic work and the new building) and begin work at the farm.  It's great to have the "back and forths" with the county completed and now we can make the changes we need in order to be in compliance.

Roger’s Septic was on site for about a week installing a larger septic system to hold the load of our new restroom.  They also installed a 1,500 gallon water storage tank. I’m excited for the tank as I will be able to store rainwater run off and use that water for crops.  They also ran water & plumbing lines for the new addition.

The new addition to the FarmStand building should begin any-day.  Last week our contractor, Behanish Enterprises, measured and drilled holes for the addition.  The weather in a few days is looking promising and the construction work should begin soon!

There is a lot of things happening in a short amount of time at the farm.  The new addition may not be fully complete by opening day, but we will have a great jump start on the work!

I’m feeling optimistic and excited for Spring to finally arrive!  It looks as if the weather is making a turn for the better this week, and I hope to get a bunch of beds planted (outdoors) on Thursday!  Yes, this has been a slow spring for plantings, but that has seemed to work in my favor. Our main plot was torn up by Roger’s Septic, so even if I wanted to plant earlier I would not have been able to.  I will say I’m happy to have the high tunnel this spring! That has allowed me to get lots of crops in the ground and get a jump start on this cold spring.

I’m still trucking away at fulfilling all the Kickstarter rewards.  All backers received an email from me with the Stretch Goal reward of the A to Z Veggie Storage Guide.  Farm recipes have been emailed, reusable totes were mailed today, t-shirts and sweatshirt sizes have been ordered by The Side Garage and they will start printing ASAP, garden consults are getting scheduled, dinner with your farmer is also getting scheduled, and Salad Subscriptions will start soon!  Kickstarter campaigns are a lot of work, but I’m so happy with the results and how our campaign has strengthened our farm community!

Be sure to mark you calendars for the FarmStand opening day on May 12th!


Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny

Dear Local Government: Actions Speak Larger Than Words

On Monday, February 26th our Kickstarter (crowdfunding) campaign will launch!  I’m going through a range of emotions with this campaign; I’m excited, stressed, nervous, optimistic, and so much more. For those of you not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a funding platform for people/businesses to raise money. Individuals pledge money and get exclusive rewards created by Dogpatch Urban Gardens! The campaign is active for 30 days, and if the funding goal is not reached we don’t get any money.

This campaign has been in the works for more than six months. I recognize that creating a Kickstarter to raise funds for a business can be frowned upon, but we are using this crowdfunding for more than just raising money.  While having a successful campaign and raising money to lessen our debt due to imposed improvements from our county is important, I also want to use this platform as a tool to increase awareness of the difficulties that can result from starting a small business. I especially want to let people know about the challenges that our urban farm is facing. Sadly, these challenges are not unique to our farm. When I talk with other farmers, many of them also have faced, or currently are experiencing, hardships resulting from unclear obligations to their local governments. Urban farming is especially challenging because we are doing something outside of the norm; this makes zoning, policies, and regulations challenging.

Here is a quick summary of the issues we are dealing with: Dogpatch Urban Gardens is an urban farm in Des Moines, Iowa. We just finished our second growing season, and in 2018 we are facing more than $75,000 of imposed infrastructural changes resulting from misinformation from our local county.

To make a long story short, our county originally treated our business using residential building code.  A year after our operation was up-and-running the county changed their stance and has decided to require that the business now adhere to commercial codes yet not rezoning us from residential.  This is in opposition to the farmstand classification, which was how we were categorized by our county, and were the guidelines we were told followed. With the change in classification to a commercial business, we are being required to add public restrooms (new septic), fencing, water retention berms, and landscaping.  We also must demo and repave surfaces, create a site plan, and more.  While we still meet the county’s definition of a farmstand, they told us we are no longer classified as such, and we must comply with their commercial building requirements.  The video in our Kickstarter campaign as well as “about” section from our page will fill you in on more details of what has occurred.

I really do feel like we have been wronged by our local county. We (I say we because my husband, Eric, has played a major role) have always been very diligent throughout the inception of this business. What I mean by this is, before even purchasing our land, we communicated our intentions and verified that we could grow on the land, sell through an on-site farmstand, as well as use the home as a rental property. As the business has evolved we communicated with our county point person. He gave us responses to our questions that we have now learned that were incorrect (or have since changed), and we relied on his expertise to our detriment. We are now faced with altering/adding a significant amount of infrastructure to the farm to maintain our business.

We have had many people offer suggestions and ways to help us through this time. Lawyer friends have offered insight and support, yet we don’t want to pursue any legal action. We do feel like the improvements that are being made to our farm will make us a better and more desirable place, but the local government hoisting all these requirements at one time is hindering the success of our business rather than promoting its success. Our business is a female-ran organization that is improving our community and the local support is strong.  We are the type of business that our local government should be promoting and uplifting, yet sadly that is not the case.  

These struggles with our government seem contradictory. The state of Iowa is a part of the “Healthiest State Initiative” and the main page on the website says, “Iowa is #19 in the nation when it comes to being physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Our ranking has moved since the Initiative was announced, but our overall well-being score has been fairly constant the past five years. To claim the #1 spot, we have work to do. It’s an ambitious goal, but with your help, we can change Iowa and show the rest of the nation the road to wellness.” If the state of Iowa is placing such an emphasis on health, it seems natural for the state to want to facilitate an urban farm. Our farm provides access to healthy, organically grown food, beautifies the land, provides employment and volunteer opportunities for people to be physically active, provides educational opportunities about growing food, and more.  Having an urban farm in a neighborhood exemplifies what the Healthiest State Initiative is trying to promote.

Many cities in the state of Iowa also used to participate in a program called the Blue Zones Project. The goal of this organization is to, “help transform communities across the U.S. into areas where the healthy choice is easy and people live longer with a higher quality of life.” Our urban farm is a great example of the foundation of The Blue Zones project. Happy, and healthy, communities tend to be more active, have an environment where healthy food is available, have decreased stress levels, limits urban sprawl and invests in beauty. If our farm isn’t a good example of a way to make a community happier (thus increasing health and quality of life), then I don’t know what is!

I was looking for some guidance/input on how to work through our county issues, so I reached out to the Blue Zones organization.  Their response to my inquiry was, “Thank you so much for your note and the great work you are doing. Our time in Iowa delivered measurable impact at both the state level and community level that to date has delivered over 650 million dollars in grants, gifts, and direct economic impact for a investment of 25 million. As reward for this work and outcomes, Blue Cross Blue Shield and state, decided not to continue our partnership which tells us that leadership doesn't understand the value of what we and your work delivers. I'm so sorry for what is happening. I would continue to share value of what your work delivers and stick to your guns!”

I realize our Kickstarter campaign may be controversial and “stir the pot” as we are putting our local government in the spotlight. I am not a politically motivated person and do not enjoy confrontation. That said, I do feel like I’m at a tipping point and I can no longer hold in my frustrations. Many of you are not aware of the hardships we are dealing with, and that is one reason I created this Kickstarter campaign. I want you all to know/realize the issues we have had to deal with, but also know we are here to stay! Dogpatch Urban Gardens will continue to preserve and continue to “Cultivate Community.”  

Be on the lookout for the launch of our campaign on Monday, February 26th!


Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny


WHY should you support your local farmer?!?!

As farmer, I’m constantly talking with my customers about the importance of eating locally.  It’s a conversation I love to have and I get so excited to educate my customers.  Your curious mind may want to know, “why is eating local so important?”  

There are many reasons why it is important to eat food grown/raised locally, and here are my top 5 reasons:

1.) Locally grown food tastes better!  

As a produce grower I’ll stick to examples of things I grow... 

There is nothing better than a vine ripened tomato grown close to you.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why they taste better than a store bought tomato?  The leading states for tomato production (in the US) are California & Florida.  This makes sense since their climate is better suited for tomatoes and they can grow them for longer seasons than we can here in Iowa.  Grocery stores stock tomatoes year round, so the majority of tomatoes they sell are not grown locally.  Most tomatoes sold at grocery stores are harvested as green tomatoes and ripen in transport, and can even be exposed to gases that speed up the ripening process.  They can’t be picked vine ripe, because the time in transport is too long and they would be bad before they make it to our stores.  Another thing to consider is many large tomato operations are growing plants hydroponically (not in soil) so their flavor profile is not as strong.

Photo Credit to Audra Gaines Mulkern from The Female Farmer Project

2.  Local food supports the local economy.

DUG FarmStand garlic sourced from local farm, Grade A Gardens

DUG FarmStand garlic sourced from local farm, Grade A Gardens

Let’s use garlic as an example: The majority of the garlic sold in our grocery stores come from China.   Would you rather use your money to promote a large scale farming operation thousands of miles away, or see it go to the hands of a local farmer?  If you buy from local farmers it allows them to be more successful but it also has a snowball effect for the local economy.  The more successful the local farmer is, the more money they will have spend their in their local economy thus strengthening it.

3. Local food can have strong environmental impacts.

Food transport can place a toll on the environment.  Large (refrigerated) trucks transporting food across the US demand quite a bit of fossil fuels.  The trucks depend on gas (or diesel) which emit exhaust that can increase air pollution.  

Freshly dug, DUG carrots!

Rather than purchasing packaged baby carrots, consider purchasing carrots from a farmer at a farmstand.  Using my farm for example, our carrots are harvested by hand (using a digging fork), they are bunched, washed, and then stored in a 10x10 walk in cooler.  Those carrots move 30 feet from my walk in cooler to the shelf for sale at the farmstand.  The environmental impact of those carrots is much less than mega-farms who use large tractors machinery to harvest, wash, store, and transport.

On a different note, buying local allows farmers to maintain their farm businesses and keep their land in production which can prevent urban sprawl.

4. Buying local allows you to connect with your farmer and know more about your food.

Think of a farmers market, most stands are being run by the farmer, or someone closely associated with the farm.  More often than not you are directly buying from the hands that planted the seeds!  This gives you an opportunity to talk directly with your grower and ask questions about how to prepare the food, what methods were used to grow the food, and so much more!  It allows you to make informed and educated purchasing decisions.

Photo Credit to Audra Gaines Mulkern from The Female Farmer Project

5. Buying local can increase your health

There is still scientific research being done to find out if locally grown food is better for your health, but here is my take on it:

When you focus on buying locally that also means you will eat seasonally which is connected to improved health.  For example, in the winter time you are probably enjoying winter squash, onions, and potatoes while in the summer you probably eat quite a bit of sweet corn, watermelons, tomatoes, and strawberries.  

Locally grown food tends to be more fresh.  Many farmers harvest items less than 2 days before they sell them.  That is not commonly the case when buying from grocers because the food has traveled many miles to get to the store and may have been sitting on the shelves for long periods of time.  Fresher food is known to have higher nutrient values.

Finally, I find that people who eat locally tend to be more food conscious and food aware.  They tend to place more value and have diets higher in fruits, vegetables, meats, grain and eat less processed foods.  There is a correlation between our nation's obesity rates and the consumption of processed foods.

I realize it can be hard to fully eat seasonal in Iowa, but I hope these ideas inspire/motivate you when it comes to your food purchases.


Your Urban FarmHer,


Off Season FUN

One thing I love about farming in the lovely state Iowa is the fact that we experience all four seasons.  While I am working on extending my crops into the winter and earlier in the spring (thus decreasing the length of the off season), I fully acknowledge there is something to be said about having an “off season.”  The off season is great for recharging my battery, analyzing my numbers, educating myself (tis the season to attend conferences and read books), planning for the next season, but most importantly spending quality time with my family.

This past weekend we were able to take a little getaway to Chicago.  Eric, the boys, and I hit the road on Thursday and had a great adventure!  Both of my brothers live in Chicago so it's a perfect place for us to go.  We planned the trip around my niece's (Annabelle) 5th birthday, and the timing was perfect because my younger brother (Ben) had an art exhibit at the same time.  We stayed at an Air BnB in Oak Park, with my parents, and made some great memories.

On Friday we took the kids to the DuPage Children’s Museum.  It was such a cool place, and I can’t wait for the day when Des Moines gets something similar.  There definitely is a need for a children’s museum in our town!  The boys had a blast and we had to drag them out.  We had about a 40 minute drive back to our place, and luckily they all passed out in the car!  

That evening we visited my brother (Jon's) house, in Oak Park, and had a mini birthday celebration for Annabelle.  Jon, and his family, bought his house a few years ago and it was nice to finally get to see it.  It's a really great bungalow built in 1918.  They found a real Oak Park gem!

Saturday morning we went out for breakfast at a cute cafe, in Oak Park called, Buzz Cafe.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a bluegrass jam session happening in the back of the cafe.  It was a perfect way to start the day!

After breakfast we stopped by the Oak Park Library and then took the kids on the "L" to go downtown and see my younger brothers' art show.   The boy’s loved their ride on the "L" just as much as any other thing we did.  It was Lewis’ first experience on the train and he was a little reluctant at first, but after awhile he loved it!  Walter seemed to enjoy it the most and was glued to the window (so much so that he kept licking it...yuck)!

My brother, Ben, is finishing up his Master's of Fine Arts at the Chicago Art Institute and had his work on exhibit at the school.  It was so great to experience his show as a family because it incorporated our grandpa Bob’s ashes, and coincidentally we visited on our Grandma Norma’s birthday.  It really hit home the importance of family!  I will say I don't recommend taking a bull-headed two year old into an art show featuring fragile ceramics.  I'm just happy my son wasn't responsible for ruining any of Ben's work!

My parents graciously offered to watch all the kids on Saturday evening, so Eric and I could have dinner with my siblings.  We ate at a great Chicago restaurant called The Loyalist.  Around Christmas I happened upon this article in Midwest Living:  After reading it, I texted my brother to have him make us a reservation.  Of course I’m drawn to local eateries that pride themselves in relationships with farmers!  Around that same time, Bon Appepit magazine named their burger as one of the top three in the US.  

I had a beet & endive salad with smoked trout that was fabulous.  My husband and sister-in-law ate the 80-day aged ribeye and the rest of our party had the burgers.  The food was delicious, the atmosphere was perfect, and the company was fantastic.  All in all it was a great dinner experience!  If you're in Chicago I would recommend checking this spot out.

Before the 2018 season gets up and running we have a family (road trip) planned to Austin, Texas.  It will be my first visit to Austin, and I’m really excited!  I know there are some great things to do in the city, but if you have any recommendations for food or fun please let me know!


Your Urban FarmHer


Ready for the road trip!

Enhancing their wood-working skills at the DuPage Children's Museum

The best birthday photo I could get!

Walter loving the "L" ride!

The fantastic menu at The Loyalist

Uncle Jon leading the way through the streets of Chicago

My local favs

As a Des Moines native, I must say...I love this city!  Des Moines has so many great things going on; it is a gem!  I love seeing publications about Des Moines being one of the best cities to work/raise a family in, yet I’m also conflicted because I don’t want too many people to learn about this great city and spoil it!

Being a small business owner/entrepreneur, I love to support other local businesses.  Where you spend your money really shows what you value, so I try to support my local friends!  Supporting local organizations helps to enhance our community exponentially compared to buying from larger organizations/corporations.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Amazon’s, “Buy with one click” yet I try to be very aware, and intentional, with where I spend my money.

That said, I thought you all might be interested in some of my favorite locally owned spots in Des Moines.  I’m not affiliated with any of these businesses other than I love what they offer Des Moines!  (You can click on each business to get directed to their website).

Food Joints

  • Table 128
    • This is Eric and I's go to date night dinner spot.  Chef Lynn & his wife Sarah are amazing people and I can't say enough good things about them!
  • The Cheese Bar
    • The Cheese Bar is the offshoot of The Cheese Shop.  If you like fine cheeses and excellent beers this is your spot!
  • The Foundry
    • This is a new and unique dining atmosphere for Des Moines where each night new/different food trucks serve food.  This is a great place to bring a family as it's large, loud, and kid friendly.
  • Gusto Pizza Co.
    • This is my go-to pizza spot.  I'm also a huge fan of the Fromage Blue salad.  We tend to go to the Johnston location, but they are conveniently located throughout Des Moines. 
  • La Mie
    • Joe & Christina Logsdon have created a Des Moines gem.  Their french inspired menu features wonderful breads, pastries, desserts as well as healthful breakfast and lunch options.
  • Harbinger
    • Chef Joe is bringing unique small plate cousine to Des Moines.  The small plates menu changes seasonally and are inspired by Chef's world travels.

Coffee Shops

  • Horizon Line
    • I love the atmosphere at Horizon Line.  It has a very clean, modern, and trendy feel.  The coffee is fantastic and they sell sweets from my friends at Brightside Kitchen and The Cutler Kitchen
  • Twisted Bean
    • I live just a mile from their new location, and it is my home away from home.  I'm a big fan of their cappuccinos and also the quiche (it is only available on the weekends).
  • Freedom Blend Coffee
    • This coffee shop has a cozy/cabin atmosphere with a great mission of empowering youth through Christ centered employment training.

Kids Activities

  • The Des Moines Children’s Museum
    • It's been so great seeing this grassroots children's museum bloom and expand.  It is currently located in Valley West Mall and it's a great place for kids to play.  I can't wait to see what the future of the Children's Museum holds!
  • Apex Gym
    • I like to take my boys to Apex on Wednesday mornings for their open play.  For only $5 (per family) my boys get to run around, jump on trampolines, and get rid of A LOT of energy!
  • Des Moines Parent 
    • This organization is an amazing resource for all things kids!  Erin has created such an awesome tool to help parents learn about kids organizations, events, opportunities, etc. in the Des Moines area.
  • Skate North
    • Skate North is in walking distance of our home, and I can only imagine how much my boys will be hanging here as they get older!


  • Farrell’s - Beaverdale
    • The crew at Farrells does such a great job of building community and support for all members.  It's a wonderful place to get your sweat on.
  • dmYOGA
    • I met Drew through Urban Ambassadors and he introduced me to dmYOGA.  I love vibe of the Saturday morning classes and the location is perfect (500 East Locust in East Village)!
  • Capital Chiropractic
    • Chris and his crew are amazing!  They focus on whole body wellness and are centered on preventative health rather than just treatments.  Capital Chiro is very active in making Des Moines a better community.
  • Campbell’s Nutrition
    • I enjoy Campbells for their organic food and also their health/wellness section.  The staff is incredibly knowledgable and can really help with your specific health needs.


  • BackCounty Outfitters
    • Backcounty has a great selection of both men's and women's clothing, shoes, and outdoor gear.  They also do a lot of support the community of Beaverdale!
  • Active Endeavors
    • Active Endeavors is my go to spot for outdoor gear and clothing.  I especially love their winter sales and like to stock up on items for myself and my kids.
  • Raygun
    • Who doesn't love a witty t-shirt?  Their slogan says it all, "The Greatest Store in the Universe."


  • 515 Brewery
    • Eric and I are craft beer fans and we feel 515 makes some of the best beers in town!
  • Jasper Winery
    • Jasper is a beautiful place and we especially love going to their Thursday night concerts in the summer.  The events are family friendly and a great way to enjoy the beauty their land has to offer!
  • Peace Tree Brewery
    • One thing I love about Peace Tree is the owner is female; not many breweries are ran by women.  Their spot in East Village is amazing and they are even a winter vegetable share pick up site for my farmer friend Jill Bebout!
  • Snookies Malt Shop
    • Snookies is our favorite ice cream spot.  It's located in Beaverdale and we love taking the whole family there on a summer night.  Our favorite thing to do is watch all the dogs and how they devour their puppy cones.
  • Beaverdale Books
    • This gem of a bookstore is my favorite local place for books.  The staff is very knowledgable and we really enjoy their kids section.
  • Tiny Acre Farms
    • Stacey is entering into her second season as a flower farmer.  Her bouquets are beautiful and last much longer than flowers sourced commercially.  Check out her awesome "Flower Truck" project that is in the works!
  • Sullivan Family Pet Hospital
    • I trust Dr. Allison Sullivan with all three of our family pets.  Her knowledge and compassion for our animals goes above and beyond!

This list is by no means all inclusive as there are so many great locally owned businesses in Des Moines.  I would love to hear what some of your favorite spots are!


Your Urban FarmHer,



How to properly store your seeds

Proper storage of your seeds is critical to ensure their quality thus allowing for higher yields.

Quality seed companies do lots of testing and are particular with how they handle their seeds, but if you do not store them correctly the seeds will have poor germination.  

The keys to properly storing seeds are:

  1. Cool temperatures
  2. Low humidity/moisture
  3. Dim (or no) light

Here are some tips for seed storage:

  • Successful seed storage starts with having good quality seed; it isn’t worth saving/storing seeds if they aren’t viable or are poor quality.  
    • Not sure if your seeds are good? - Test your seeds using the Paper Towel Test (see video).
      • The more seeds that sprout the higher the germination rate!
  • I like to write (using a permanent marker) the year I purchased each seed on the outside of the packet.  The older the seed the less likely they will germinate, so having that documented is important.  Personally, I prefer to use seeds that are two years old or younger.
  • Containers for storage 
    • I generally keep my seeds in the bag/container they come in.  
    • If I notice a hole in the envelope I like to use mason jars or recycled glass jars.  You can also use food storage bags or buy containers specifically for storing seeds.  
  • I keep my seeds in an uninsulated area in my basement. The key is to keep them cool. 
    • Some people will store seeds in their refrigerator (make sure they aren’t too close to the freezer), but I don’t have enough room for all of them!
  • Organize your seeds
    • I have a large amount of seeds and keep them in portable hanging file folder boxes.  
    • I label each file by seed type (tomato, lettuce, herbs, etc), so I can easily find the seeds I need.  
    • Figure out whatever system works for you, but keeping seeds organized is so nice when you're ready to plant!

An example of how I store my seeds using a file box and file folders

I hope you find this information valuable and, keep in mind, each day spring is getting closer!

Your Urban FarmHer,


My Top 3 Seed Companies

It's the time of the year to start thinking about your seeds for the 2018 growing season.  Looking through seed catalogs is so exciting, as it signals that spring will be here before we know it! Within the past few weeks the majority of my seeds for the 2018 season have been arriving, and my mailman has become my best friend!

I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite places to buy seeds (and why).  Not all seeds are creating equally, and having high quality seeds is critical to getting the best yields from your plants.  

There are so many places to buy seeds from.  Honestly, I like to stick to what I know and have had good success with.  I get inundated with new seed catalogs, and yes it is fun to flip through them, but I try not to buy from too many companies.  

The reasons I like these companies are: high quality seeds, great germination rates, knowledgeable staff (good customer service), strong missions, ecologically motivated, and they take part in the “Safe Seed Pledge.”

I like to support these smaller scale seed companies.  They have a passion for the land, and are great to work with.  They also have personal relationships with many of the farmers growing them their seeds.

Below are my top 3 seed companies.  

Johnnys Selected Seeds

Johnny's is a 100% employee owned company located in Winslow, Maine.  Their  mission is,  “helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, information, and service.”

Johnny's is my go-to seed source; I buy a majority of my seeds from them.  I also buy a lot of other gardening equipment from them.  This company works closely with market gardeners and is continually developing tools to better suit our needs.  

The seeds are top quality.  They have an on-site seed lab where they test germination rates and they also store their seeds in temperature controlled environment to preserve the quality.  They also send seeds to a different lab to test for the presence of pathogens.

Another thing I love about this company is their customer support.  You can easily call them or chat with them through the website.  They are very knowledgeable and supportive of growers.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

High Mowing Seeds is located in Wolcot, Vermont, and all the seeds they sell are certified organic.  The company began as a small scale operation and has blossomed into one of the top organic seed providers for home gardeners and commercial growers.

One thing I love about High Mowing is most all their employees are farming, or have previously farmed.  They definitely have a passion for growing and that passion overflows into the company.  Many of the varieties they sell are grown on their 40 acre plot of land.

They also have an on-site quality control lab so they can verify the seeds are of the highest quality.

They currently offer free shipping on any orders over $10!

Seed Savers Exchange

Seed Savers is located in the beautiful town of Decorah, Iowa.  I have yet to visit them, but I want to get up there soon!  I hear the property is amazing.  Their mission is to, “conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.”

Seed Savers specializes in preserving heirloom seed varieties.  They have a collection of over 20,000 heirloom seeds.  One cool thing about this company is they have a seed historian who researches the story of each seed variety and documents the history of the seed.

I like to buy tomato, peppers, and herbs from seed savers.  Seed Savers doesn’t offer bulk packaging (like Johnny’s and High Mowing), so for seeds where I’m ordering a lot (lettuces, radish, arugula, etc) I source those elsewhere.

Now is the time to order your seeds, and I have noticed some popular varieties already be backordered.  Feel free to ask me what varieties I love to grow!

Your Urban FarmHer,


Lots to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I truly hope your cup is full today.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  It’s a time where so much of our family gets together and we just enjoy our time with each other.  I find it to be the most fulfilling holiday of the year!  

The Quiner family wishes you a happy Thanksgiving

Monroe enjoying our new handmade walnut farmtable

My family will be spending the day together enjoying each others company, great food, great drinks, and making lasting memories!  On Friday, we will be hosting a farm to table dinner at my house for Eric’s side of the family.  I'm excited to cook, but also to serve on our new farmhouse table.  Eric made the table using a walnut tree that we cut down at the farm.  We had it milled and it had been curing for over a year.  He is in the process of making a bench that will run alongside the wall.  The table is beautiful and I love the addition to our home!

During the season, Thursday's are arguably our busiest day of the week.  We are washing/packing for both our Salad Subscription and the FarmStand.  I also make restaurant deliveries on Thursdays as well, so much of my mornings are spent driving around the metro delivering to chefs.  This is my first Thursday off since April (excluding my trip to Naples, FL) and it feels wonderful!  I absolutely love farming, but the truth is that it’s a demanding career and I welcome the winter months as a way to recharge my battery.  Come spring, I will be raring to get out into the field, but for now, I’m ready for some R & R.

Looking back on the 2017 season, I have a lot to be thankful for.  My husband, Eric, has been a rock for both the business and our family.  He does a lot of the behind the scenes things for DUG that goes unseen, but trust me, his work for DUG is critical for our success.  I also want to thank my amazing crew of employees.  Kate, Kristen, & Jordi have been with me in the field throughout the season.  They work their butts off in extreme climates to provide our customers with the freshest food possible. Sherri, Katy Jo, Jessie, and Robin have been the smiling faces working the DUG FarmStand.  They sacrificed their weekends to keep the FarmStand running smooth.  I also want to thank you, our DUG supporters.  I truly blessed to have such great support for our local community.  You are what allows this business to thrive and I will miss seeing you in the winter.  

Katy Jo's smiling face behind the counter

Jordi rocking the carrots

Kristen and Kate transplant lettuces

Many people ask what I do during the off season, so here’s a glimpse:  

  • I’ve started to analyze my numbers/financials for tax season.  I enjoy sitting down and analyzing this data.  It helps to guide my planning for the following season.  Here is an example pie chart I recently created.  It allows me to visualize the different avenues where my cash flow comes from.  
  • I’m also spending time working on my business plan.  I’m beginning my second year in the Practical Farmers of Iowa Savings Incentive Program and one main goal at the completion of this year is to have a finalized business plan.  
  • I’ve started to plan out next season’s crops.  I will grow many of the same main crops, but am looking to add new varieties.  I will also tweak the amount of each crop I grow.  For example, I need to plant more beds of beets next season because we were short later in the fall.  I use all the sales data inputted in our Square program to get a better grasp/understanding of what products make us the most money and plan accordingly.  
  • While planning out my crop selection I also make a rough crop planting plan.  This planting plan gives me an idea of what I will plant throughout the 2018 growing season, but also where those crops will be planted.  I consider crop rotations, soil quality, sunlight, drainage, etc when selecting which beds will get planted with which crops.  Having this in place before the season starts is beneficial as it gives me a big picture plan for the season.  Also, as the season picks up my time is limited, so planning as much ahead of time is very beneficial.
  • After I get my crop plan in place, I get to order my seeds!  It’s always fun when the seed catalogs start coming in the mail.  The challenge for me is to use some self control and not grow 25 different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, or lettuces!  Each year I like to incorporate new varieties, but I really try to be selective.  

Our Aib BnB has been going great!  We launched it in October, and have essentially been booked for the past two months.  Our guests have been great and it has been fun getting to know them.  Please keep our place in mind if you have family, friends, or coworkers looking for a place to stay in Des Moines.  You can view the home details by clicking here


As the weather gets cooler, keep in mind we have firewood for sale.  The wood is aged and burns great.  My family and I were joking around that this wood is “non GMO, organic, gluten free, and vegan!!"

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On Sunday, I hit the road to travel south to Selmer, Tennessee for the Small Farms for Big Change Event.  I’m so excited to be a part of this event.  I will be staying at Rose Creek Farms which is owned/operated by Ray Tyler and his wife.  Ray is doing amazing things for the market garden community so I can’t want to learn more about his farming systems.  On Monday, I will be participating in a day of round table sessions with some of my farming mentors - Curtis Stone (Profitable Urban Farming) and Ben Hartman (The Lean Farm).  10 market gardeners were accepting into this Mastermind class and I feel honored to be accepted!  The other days on the farm I will be learning about new tools, wash/pack set up, growing greens throughout the summer, farm planning, and more!  I’m very excited to meet some of my market gardening mentors (Ray Tyler, Curtis Stone, Ben Hartman, Jonathan Dysinger, Diego Footer, and Michael Kilpatrick).  The knowledge I gain from my trip will no doubt make me a better farmer.

A congratulations is in order to Stacy at Tiny Acre Farms.  She funded her kickstarter campaign!  Stay on the lookout for her Flower Truck next season!

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Stay tuned for a DUG holiday gift giveaway hapening soon.  I will post more details when I get back from Tennessee.


Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny





Spring has sprung!

Spring is here, spring is here!!  Since that is the case, please don’t judge me when you see me in person and I constantly have dirt under my fingernails; that is a constant battle that I tend to lose.

Our hoop house will look similiar to this

Great news, we have received word from the NRCS that we are accepted into their High Tunnel Initiative program, and will receive a grant to install a high tunnel!  If you’re not familiar with a high tunnel (also known as a hoop house) just think of it as an unheated greenhouse.  This is a game-changer for the farm!  Having this structure will allow for me to grow in a more controlled environment and I’m so excited to get this puppy installed.  High Tunnels are great because they allow me to regulate the growing environment so much more than in the field.  The high tunnel will also allow me to extend the growing season so you will be able to enjoy DUG greens both earlier in the spring and later in the fall!  

We ordered the structure a few weeks ago and hope to get in installed by early May.  We will be working with Practical Farmers of Iowa to host a “barn-raising” event for the high tunnel build.  We ordered our high tunnel from a company in Ohio called Tunnel Vision Hoops, and Todd (a co-owner of the company) will come out and help us with the install.  If you are interested in being a part of the construction of the high tunnel please let me know.

A huge shout out to Steve Darcy from Quality Cut Lawn Care.  He did such great work getting the land ready for the high tunnel.  We brought in 10 loads of soil and he graded the land and also installed a swale that should help control some areas where we had pooling water last season.  51st Street does not have curbs/sewers so a lot of the water run off from the road ended up pooling next to our farm driveway. We are optimistic this dirt work will help to alleviate our standing water issues.  If you are in need of lawn care and or landscape services I highly recommend Quality Cut Lawn Care.

As the weather is getting nicer I have been enjoying getting to work in the field.  I've been able to get about ⅓ of my beds prepped and ready for planting.  When I prep beds it involves applying compost, broad forking the soil to increase airflow and loosen up compaction, using a landscape rake to get the beds shaped properly, and finally going over the beds with a roller to get a firm/flat seed bed.  My goal is to get as many beds prepped ahead of time which will make planting go so much quicker.  I’m also hoping to re-tarp most of the plot next week.  I have found the tarps to do a great job with weed control.

Transplanted lettuces all tucked in.

On Tuesday I was able to transplant my first seeds of the season!  The unexpected part was that most of the time I was transplanting it was snowing!  I got in the field early that morning to try to get a jump start on what (I thought) was going to be rain, which instead turned into beautiful massive snowflakes.  The snow was actually kind of nice because I was still able to transplant and it helped to gently water in the baby plants into their new home.  The snow melted about 90 minutes later and the new lettuce and kale transplants are doing great.  

My basement nursery is continuing to see a lot of seed starting action!  Microgreen production continues to increase.  I recently picked up an account with La Mie Elevate and am thrilled to be working with them.  If you haven’t checked out their new location (on the skywalk in the Ruan Building) you must make it a to-do.  The atmosphere is great and the food never disappoints.  

Lettuces hardening off in preperation for transplanting.

Along with microgreen production, I also have lettuces, kale, swiss chard, edible flowers, tomatoes, and peppers happily growing.  Today I plan to start more lettuces to get transplanted out in about a month.

In honor of national puppy day, Monroe spent the day with me at the farm.

Next week I will start to direct seeds some more plants out in the plot.  Spinach, mustard greens, radish, turnips, baby kale, and arugula are all expected to be planted early next week.  Each week the beds will continue to get more and more things planted.

Earlier this week we had our hearing with Polk County and our application for a Conditional Use Permit on at the farm was accepted!   One of our main objectives with getting the Conditional Use Permit is that it will allow us to install permanent signage at the farm.  The Conditional Use Permit will also open the doors for us to be able to host events at the farm, so that is great news!  We had record responses of support from those of you in the community and that means so much to us...THANK YOU!

Within the next few weeks we will be focusing on revamping the FarmStand and getting it ready-to-roll for opening weekend (Mother’s Day weekend).  Yesterday we got a new 2-door glass front fridge.  I envision this new fridge being stocked full with DUG greens!  Eric will start building new and improved displays.  The new displays are being built using wood from the trees we took down on the farm last season.  We had it milled and it’s been curing under a deck for almost a year.  It should be good to go soon and I love that we are able to repurpose that wood in this manner.  In about 6 weeks the FarmStand will be transformed from the off-season poker night spot to your destination to purchase fresh, seasonal produce!

If you missed our recent feature blog on Made in DSM be sure to check it here.  The boys at Made in DSM are wonderful and I love their mission of, “Wanting to remind people why Des Moines matters. By collaborating with other great designers, companies, and start-ups we plan on showing what’s great about Des Moines, Iowa."  The questions they ask people are great and I love how unique they.  Reading their blogs really allows you to better get to know that person.  I recommend getting on their mailing list so stay current on their blog updates


Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny

The 2017 season is almost here!

As a farmer I’m quickly realizing that I’m always talking about the weather, but holy cow, how crazy was this past heat wave in February?  I know it feels good for our souls to get outside and work/play in mid February, but my farmer self has an internal battle with this weather.  I’m concerned what the temperatures will bring this summer.  I’m also worried that my pest pressures may be more severe with this mild winter, but the optimistic side of me says the beneficial insect populations should also be higher, so they can help control the populations of my harmful pests.  Let’s hope this is the case!

Since this weather was so nice this past weekend, we were able to get a head start on prepping some land for better production.  Eric and some amazing friends in the neighborhood were able to take down three large trees that were hindering our sunlight and grow space.  It is nice to be able to get some of this necessary work done in late February!

The crew sets a game plan for tree removal.  Note: Oliver's chainsaw is only a toy!

Today is National CSA Day, so I want to thank all of you for your support of the DUG Salad subscription.  The spring session sold out quickly and I am so appreciative for what you do to make DUG successful!  Don’t worry if you missed out on the Spring Subscription, because you can still buy our produce at the DUG FarmStand, the Beaverdale Farmers Market, and the Iowa Food Coop.  There are also a few more subscriptions available for the fall session, so feel free to sign up for that before it sells out as well!

New T-shirts will be avaialble this season!

It may seem early, but we are excited to announce the FarmStand season will begin on Mother’s Day weekend (May 13th and 14th).  Be sure to add it to you calendar!  The hours are still not set in stone, but this season the FarmStand will be open Thursday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday.  Keep our opening weekend in mind if you want to buy transplants for your own personal garden.  We will be selling our transplants as well as transplants from other local growers.  Mid May is the perfect time to plant most of the plants we are selling, so the timing is ideal!

As of earlier this week, my seed starting season has began!  On Monday, I started a bunch of kale seeds, and things will really start to pick up in these next few weeks.  I’m starting hundreds of lettuce seeds this week as well.  Next week I’ll be getting some extra tomato seeds started (Ben at Wabi Sabi Farm is starting most of my tomatoes, but I’ll do a few on my own) and each week the seed starting process will grow exponentially!

The infamous Jang Seeder!

When I plant in the field I do a combination of transplanting and direct seeding my crops.  It really just depends on what type of crop I’m planting.  I transplant all plants that are “long season crops” and need an extra jump start to be healthy early in the season.  Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, kale, basil, some edible flowers, as well as some lettuce varieties are transplanted.  I do not have a greenhouse, but I do have an indoor nursery set up in my basement.  That is where I grow microgreens year round and it is also a great set up for me to start my transplants.  Transplants do prefer natural light as opposed to artificial lights, but I make sure to give my plants extra time hardening off and they have done great out in the field. Most greens, herbs, radish, carrots, turnips, and some edible flowers are directly seeded into the soil using one of my favorite tools called a Jang seeder.  The Jang is an amazing seeder which will furrow, plant, and bury my seed quickly and efficiently.  The Jang seeder is not necessary for a small home garden but it is such a time saver for my scale!

You may recall that we had to tear up most of our grow plot last fall due to the installation of our drainage system.  I’m hopeful to get the beds created again in the next couple of weeks.  It all really depends on what the weather decides to do, but as long as the ground isn’t frozen the soil should be workable.  Since we have the plot tarped, I’m not too concerned about rainfall because the tarps help to keep the soil moisture levels lower.  That said, I’m still not 100% sure how I will remove those massive tarps if they have a bunch of pooling water, but I will deal with that when the time comes!

I’ll leave you with a reminder that the 8th Annual Feed Greater Des Moines Conference is coming up.  The event is Saturday, March 4th from 9am-4pm at Grace Lutheran Church.  Attend the conference so you can, “learn from the top hunger fighting and local food organizations in Greater Des Moines about how they are combining efforts to make a difference.”  Jordan Clasen (Grade A Gardens) and I will be on the local foods panel discussing our experiences as beginning farmers.  Tickets are required and all the details can be found here.

Stay tuned for some exciting news on the horizon here at DUG!

Crop planning is complete!

A photo of my backyard

Beautiful snow is finally falling here in the Des Moines area. The boys are peacefully napping so I get a little quiet time to reflect on this imspiring past week.

Last weekend I attended the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference. This was my second year in attendance and I left feeling educated and energized for the 2017 farm season. A common theme I’m taking away from the conference is the critical importance of soil health.  Crop yields, water retention, pest issues, etc. can all be connected to fertility of soil.   

Here are some of the memorable sessions I attended:

  • Patrice Gros runs Foundation Farm in Arkansas and uses no till methods to enhance his soil.  He uses unique growing methods, and has a very profitable farm.  
  • Ajay Nair is an assistant professor from the Department of Horticulture at ISU and he shared a wealth of information on building soil fertility specific to a vegetable farm.
  • Mark Quee is the farm manager at Scattergood Friends School, in West Branch, and he gave a good talk on his use of cover crops for their farm.

Another thing I love about the conference is getting to connect with my fellow farmers. It's great to talk shop with farming friends at an event like this because in the thick of the season it can be difficult to be as available for each other.  

I was also able to meet other participants in the P.F.I. Savings Incentive Program. We ate lunch together and had a nice gathering after the conference.  There is a wide variety of farmers involved with this years SIP program from organic vegetables to livestock, but we all working to become better farmers and better stewards of the land.

At the conference, I had my first meet-up with my SIP mentor, Jill Bebout from Blue Gate Farm.  I’m so excited to be partnered with Jill.  She has a wealth of farming knowledge and she will be a great resource for me as a beginning farmer.  

In other news, Dowling Catholic High School did an article on the farm in their recent publication, “Focus.”  As a DCHS graduate and former teacher, it was very exciting to be approached about an article. You can read the article here

I spent almost six hours on Tuesday knocking out my crop planning for 2017.  It’s a difficult process for many farmers, but being a beginning farmer seems to make it even more challenging.  Crop planning is essentially a jigsaw puzzle for farmers.  While planning, you have to consider crop rotations, pest issues, climate, soil types, etc.  It’s no easy task.  That said, I’m really happy with the set up.  Now that the task is complete, I know exactly where I will be planting which seeds throughout the season and when they will be planted.  What is also exciting is I now have a much deeper understanding of crop planning and it should only get easier in years to come.  

A screenshot of a portion of my crop planning.

I’m really happy that all of my beds will get cover crops at some point in 2017.  A third of my beds will be planted with buckwheat cover crops in July, while the rest of the beds will get a combo of rye/pea cover crops in mid October.  Cover crops serve many functions that all revolve around soil health.  I’m planting the cover crops to increase organic matter, as a method of weed control, and also to fix nitrogen in the soil.  Growing intensively on less than ¼ of an acre can make cover cropping a challenge.  Many farmers will designate specific areas to be cover cropped for long periods of time, but I don’t have that luxury because I don’t have excess amounts of land.  I’m hopeful the system I have in place this season will work well and I will continue to incorporate cover crops into my crop planning each year.

With all the crop planning finished, I have been able fill my seed orders!  I love flipping through seed catalogs and deciding what to grow for the season.  I'll be growing many of the same things as last season, but I am most excited for the addition of edible flowers.  I'm experimenting with growing Nasturtium, Gem Marigolds, Viola, Bachelor's Buttons, and Dianthus.  Since much of what I grow focuses on salads, I figured edible flowers were a perfect addition to my arsenal.  I'm a rookie with edible flowers, so hopefully I have success! 

Now, off to finish taxes!

January Rain?

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope your resolutions are holding strong!

The “off season” has allowed us to make improvements to some of our infrastructure.  Just a few weeks ago Eric did some great work in my indoor nursery.  We recently expanded the space and so Eric made the whole area one unified room by painting the floor and walls.  He also constructed a permanent shelving system and moved my soil table from the garage to the nursery.  This will streamline the space and make growing microgreens and some of my plant starts more efficient.  I’m loving the improvement and it will allow me to grow more product!

Tomorrow morning I’m hitting the road to make a mini road trip to go see one of my market gardening mentors, Jean Martin Fortier.  JM is speaking in Lincoln, Nebraska and I’m stoked to go see him in the flesh!  His book, The Market Gardener, has been a huge resource for me. When I heard he was coming to the midwest, it was a no-brainer to go see him.  I’m actually looking forward to the making three hour road trip by myself.  I’ll catch up on some farming podcasts (The Farmer to Farmer, Permaculture Voices, and The Sample Hour are some of my favorites) and just get some nice time to myself.

This past week I was able to attend two great events focusing on local food systems in the Des Moines Area.

I was privileged to be on the panel for a Food Still Matters get together.  I was in great company with Ash Bruxvoort from The Iowa Food Coop, Rick Hartman of Small Potatoes Farm, and Aubrey Alvarez from Eat Greater Des Moines.  

The goal of Food Still Matters is to, “explore our relationship with food through community meals (vegan potluck), film screenings and panel discussions. We will explore issues of food insecurity, workers rights, local foods, environmental impacts of food and nutrition.”  The night kicked off with a great vegan potluck and then we had amazing discussions on what’s happening in the Des Moines food scene.  The conversation was very enlightening and educational.

The organization meets monthly, so be sure to follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with other events.  Something to definitely keep on your radar is their upcoming, VeganFest (a healthier alternative to BaconFast.)  VeganFest is February 18th and will feature vegan dishes from Des Moines restaurants.

I also attended a monthly meet up with the group, Growing for Profit.  Growing for Profit is a peer group of market gardens that get together to discuss various topics on growing food for profit.   The meeting began with an amazing potluck.  One thing is for sure, when you attend a potluck with a bunch of farmers, the food will not disappoint!   What I enjoyed the most was the sense of community amongst growers.  The people in attendance were there to offer advice on tools, techniques, pest control, etc. all with the hopes of making each other better farmers. I was able to meet new farmers and establish connections that I will be sure to maintain.

Who else thinks it’s crazy that it’s almost mid January and I had to use an umbrella this morning?!?  Stay dry my friends.

November 2016

The holiday season is here and I hope you’re feeling the spirit!

Our family had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving here in Des Moines.  We enjoyed family time and, of course, amazing food.  One of the highlights of our Thanksgiving meal was the smoked pork butt from Berkwood Farms.  We sell their Berkshire pork products at the Farmstand and finally found the time to smoke the pork butt!  It was delicious.

We may have even started a new post Thanksgiving Day tradition at our house.  For years, Eric and I have hosted both our families to a party at our house the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Even though my family was out of town, this year’s party was a huge success.  I love our house, but one of my biggest complaints is when we host a get together there’s not a great place for us all to sit down and enjoy a meal together.  Instead, we have people sitting in random spots throughout the house using their laps as a table.  This year we tried something different.  We used our tables and table cloth from our set up at the Beaverdale Farmer’s Market and at the Farmstand.  We set up the tables in our garage; yes the garage.  While it sounds strange, we ended up having a beautiful garage dinner.  Our garage is heated (not energy efficient, I know) yet it was perfect for hosting our new tradition, “the gourmet garage feast.”  

We were able to enjoy fabulous grilled steaks, a fall harvest salad featuring DUG produce and microgreens, and oven roasted radish and turnips all from the farm, and naan made from HoQ restaurant.  Come to think of it, our garage is the perfect spot for hosting.  You can enjoy everyone’s company while eating great foods and drinking fine wines all while not worrying at all about making a mess!  

Here’s an update on what’s happening at the farm:  

I was recently accepted into the Practical Farmers of Iowa Savings Incentive Program (SIP).  I’m both excited and honored to be a part of this program.  SIP is a two year program and it will, “pair beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced farmer mentors; provides targeted learning and peer networking opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money while learning how to build a profitable farm.”

After the two years, I will have cash available to purchase a farm asset. I’m leaning towards purchasing a walk-behind BCS tractor but I have some other great ideas for how to spend that money as well.

The crew is almost finished with the installation of our new water drainage system.  As most of you probably recall, we dealt with some major standing water issues this grow season.  We decided that instead of dealing with the flooding issues again we wanted to fix the problem as soon as we could.  While it is a financial investment to have the drainage system installed, I’m confident we won’t regret it.  We are even thinking to the future and plan on installing a water collection tower that we will be able utilize all the water pumped through the new drainage system and reuse the water in the field.  We may not get it installed for the next grow season it is something that is high on our to-do list.

Our massive pile of logs has all been split and neatly organized on the backside of the plot.  This was a big undertaking and it took Eric and friends days of laborious work using the log splitter, chainsaw, and man-power.  The wood is now neatly piled and it has opened up our back plot.  Once the wood is seasoned we will be selling it by the bundle.  The next step is to build our permanent compost bin system next to the stacked wood piles.


As the colder weather approaches it’s nice to be able to take a break from the farm work and spend some time relaxing, enjoying family, and accomplishing random tasks that kept getting put aside during the busy grow season.  I’ve learned very quickly to appreciate the seasons as winter is the time to regenerate.  I’m not sure how some farmers grow year round without completely burning out.  My house is the cleanest it has been in months and I’m actually all caught up on laundry!  

That said, I’m just starting to get my seed catalogues in the mail and I’m already shifting gears to what seeds to order for next season.  It’s exciting to start looking back on the ups and downs of the season and use that data to plan for the spring.  I’ll grow many of the same crops as this season but will also be experimenting with some new crops.

Cheers to snow, warm fires, family time, and basketball season!


The Gourmet Garage

The Gourmet Garage

Photo taken by Chef Lynn P. from Table 128

The crew dug a trench, laid the perforated pipe, topped it with rock, covered with fabric, and filled in the hole.

An interesting shot of about 7 feet of our soil horizon in the heavily flooded area

A glimpse of some of the wood before Eric began the project.

The finished product

Enjoying more free time at a wreath making class at The Botanical Gardens taught by Tara from Plant Life Designs

Happy Face Emoji

Greetings DUG family.  I realize it’s been far too long since I made a blog post, but (as you know) finding free time to write a blog is difficult during peak farming season.  I am making time for this post because there are so many great things happening at Dogpatch Urban Gardens and I want to share all the positivity.

This past weekend I was awarded, “Partner of the Year” at the Urban Ambassadors FriendRaiser event.  I was nominated by a community member and the board selected me (amongst many other great projects happening in the Des Moines area.)  I was honored to be selected for this award.

The Urban Ambassadors mission is to, “Help you clarify your sustainability goals, connect you with local resources, and make a positive impact in your community for a healthier planet.”  Their mission aligns so well with the principles and practices here at DUG, and that is one key reason why I’m so proud to win the "Partner of the Year" award.

Seedstock is a publication which, “fosters the development of robust and sustainable local food systems…”  They are based out of California and just did a feature article on Dogpatch Urban Gardens.  The editor happen upon our website when she was researching urban farms.  She was formulating ideas for farming with families and when she saw the DUG website she thought our story was a perfect fit!

You can read the article here:

The Farmstand is continuing to expand and we are seeing more and more customers each week.  I started working with a company called FarmTable Delivery (based in Harlan, Iowa).  FarmTable works with smaller scaled farmers to both purchase and deliver their goods.  The company has weekly pickups/deliveries and travels between Omaha and Cedar Rapids.  They have allowed us to support other smaller scale farms that have similar farming philosophies thus allowing the farmstand to have more diversity in our products.  I also recently connected with Berkwood Farms and are selling top-of-the-line Berkshire pig products.  This past week we purchased a retail fridge and can now sell farm-fresh eggs, dairy products, hummus, and other cold storage items.  The retail fridge is also great because we can keep our greens and microgreens in there during store hours and I don’t have to worry them wilting in the heat.

I’ve also been continuing to build relationships with local chefs and have really enjoyed providing them with DUG produce throughout the grow season.  Check out the photos, and you will see a sample of how some of the Chefs are incorporating DUG produce into their beautiful dishes.

As the growing season is starting to slow down, it’s so great to be able to take a few breaths and really comprehend the things that have happened at the farm in just one season.  As a start up business, there are always “teachable moments”, failures, difficulties, etc. but I’m very optimistic about the direction DUG is going.  I realize I’m not in this alone and there have been so many people that have helped get us to where we are today.  If you are reading this blog, I guarantee you are someone who has helped DUG be successful and I want you to know how appreciative I am for your support.

As an FYI, the Farmstand will be open through the month of October and we will close up shop for the winter.  Eric and I have our flight to Florida booked for early November, and it will be a well deserved vacation for both of us!


In the company of some great Eco-Heros

Some fall produce at the Farmstand

Le Jardin - DUG tomatoes used to make sauce

Baru 66 - DUG pea shoots

Proof - DUG baby carrots

HoQ - DUG Spring Mix

Reeds Hollow - DUG radishes

May update

Greetings DUG family!

Spring is always a busy time of year for farmers and here at DUG we are no exception!  So much is happening that it’s hard to even decide where to begin…

  • Yesterday was the first farmers market for DUG!  We participated in the Johnston Farmer's Market and really enjoyed meeting community members.  So many people have been driving by the plot recently and are interested in what we are doing.  It’s nice to see the enthusiasm towards the farm and be able to “tell our story” to the community.  I will be set up at the Johnston Farmer’s Market next Tuesday (3:30-6:30pm) and then will be a full-time vendor at the Beaverdale Farmer’s Market every Tuesday night (4-7pm) the rest of the season.

  • The Spring Salad Subscription has launched!  This has been in the works for a few months and it felt great to get it released.  The excitement towards this program has been overwhelming.  We sold out of “shares” for the Spring Session in about a week.  The two other sessions (Early Summer and Late Summer) still have openings, but they are filling up fast, so if you would like to be a part of the Salad Subscription you want to sign up soon.  You can learn all about the program at

  • Chefs are excited about our products and DUG items are popping up in restaurants around the Des Moines Metro.  You can sample our radishes at Le Jardin, pea microgreens at Grounds for Celebrations, microgreen varieties at Baru 66, salad mixes and root veggies at HoQ, and Chef Brett at The Cheese Shop has used our goodies for farm-to-table events.  If you’re looking for a night out I highly recommend any of these dining establishments.  Tell them DUG sent you!

  • Progress on the pole barn (which will double as our Farm Stand and my work station) is moving along.

    • The interior for the store is almost complete.  Eric and friends completed the framing, sheet-rocking, mudding, and painting the interior of the farm stand.  Electrical is complete and the garage door is installed.  We need to finish installing some light fixtures and then we get to start setting up displays!

    • Our goal is to have the farm stand open starting in mid June.  I am working on sourcing local goods from other farmers/producers in the Des Moines area.  We will have honey, maple syrup, spices, oils, soaps, lotions, and other items.  When we do open, we will have weekend hours.  Stay tuned for more details.

  • Work is almost complete for getting my washing/package systems finalized

    • The framework for my wash station and dry station are put together.  We have some dirt work to do outside of the pole barn and then those areas will be installed.  Eric is also going to build a lean-to over my work stations, so I can have a covered work space.

  • We moved the smaller shed on the farm plot about 20 feet and rotated it 90 degrees in order to make the space more usable.  It was a very impressive process to see Eric and his buddies remove the siding, put the shed on dollies, and move the structure all while keeping it in tact!  We had siding leftover from the pole barn, so Eric used that to finish the shed.  Our buddy, Mike Gannon, from AAA Roofing installed an awesome faux slate roof (made from recycled materials) for us and it looks great!

  • Seeds are planted, sprouting, and growing!  The plot is really starting to emerge and it’s great to see all the shades of greens (and reds) pop up.  I use successive plantings so I’m putting new seeds in the ground weekly.  Most all of my beds are currently planted, and it’s just about time to pull some older crops and get beds prepped to plant a new succession.

  • My main summer crops are now in the ground.  Last week, I planted around 90 tomato plants, 90 peppers, and 60 summer squash varieties (thanks for my dad for help with the squash transplants).  The plants transplanted well and seem to be liking their new homes.  Next week I will fertilize them with fish emulsion to help give them some added nutrients for growth.

This is my last week as a teacher.  It is bitter-sweet to be saying goodbye to my Dowling teaching community, but I am excited to be able to commit more of my time to the farm.  

I’ll keep you all posted on the farm stand progress and let you know when we will officially open.  Our family is always at the farm on Sunday’s from 9-11 distributing our Salad Subscription, so if you’re in the area stop by and say hello!


Week 2 of the Salad Subscription (photo taken by subscriber Alex B)

Chef Brett from The Cheese Shop using turnips and radish in this dish for a farm-to-table event.

Chef Brett from The Cheese Shop using turnips and radish in this dish for a farm-to-table event.

Francisco was a HUGE help with interior of the farmstand.

This homemade farm table will be the centerpiece for the farm-stand.

Jamie D and Eric working on relocating the shed.

Jamie D and Eric working on relocating the shed.

Mike G hooking us up on the roof!

Monroe - my right hand "man" at the farm.

Baby Red Russian kale in its early stages.

The plot on May 15th, 2016 (just before summer crops were planted)

The plot on May 15th, 2016 (just before summer crops were planted)

Spring is here!

Spring is finally here!  I have been waiting for spring to arrive ever since Dogpatch Urban Gardens became a business in mid October.  Now is the time our vision for DUG can start becoming a reality.

After a little over a 3 month time span, we officially became the owners of the back ½ acre plot directly north of the farm.  Acquiring that land was more of an endeavor than we imagined.  We had to do a "lot tie agreement" which meant we bought and joined someone else's land to our current land.   Anytime you change land boundaries in a county any city within two miles can have jurisdiction over the process. Based on our location that meant we had to work with Polk County, the city of Des Moines, Urbandale, and Johnston.  There were not issues with the process, but working with all those entities took time. Both Eric and I were admittedly restless with the process, but all that is behind us now because the land is now in our names!

As soon as we got possession of the land Eric converted from a salesman to a lumberjack.  In total he cut down 5 trees in less than one week (mind you he had lots of help from our neighbors and friends!)  Taking down all those trees was not a walk-in-the-park considering they were mature and large.  It is hard (both mentally and physically) to cut down beautiful trees, but it was necessary to do in order for us to build the pole barn (which will be the farm stand and my work station).

One key value at Dogpatch Urban Gardens is sustainability, yet cutting down all those trees seems far from promoting sustainability.   I guarantee we will enhance the area and put in new trees/plants/hedge rows/etc. that will further enhance biodiversity and our soil quality.  It will take time, but we have a very exciting vision for the back plot.

Another cool thing about removing those trees is that we had a man come and remove the major trunks and he is working to mill all that wood for us.  We will have an abundance cherry, maple, and catalpa wood that we will use inside the farm stand and for other DUG projects.  The rest of the wood is currently neatly piled on the plot and over time we will sell it as firewood.

Last week we acquired 3 permits from Polk County.  We got the permit to build the pole barn (construction should begin this week, weather permitting).  Since our fence will be 8 feet tall in most areas, we had to get  a permit for that height of fence.  The city wrote that permit last week and the fence installation should begin this week as well.  The last permit we acquired was to add a driveway as an entry to the pole barn.

Along with all the new infrastructure things happening, I was able to get out in the soil today and get my first transplants in the ground.  I planted one bed of Red Russian Kale (90 total plants) and one bed of Green Incised Salanova (200+ plants).  The process was slower than I would have liked, but there is a learning curve with so many things on the farm, and the more I do it the more efficient I will be.

I also set up a poly-low tunnel over the two newly planted beds.  The poly-low tunnel is essentially like a portable greenhouse.  It will help to protect the plants during cold temperatures at night, but will also keep the soil warmer during the day and speed up the growth rate for the plants. 

I had initially planned to direct seed some more beds today, but instead I decided to tarp a large area of beds and will shoot to get more things planted at the end of the week.  The tarps are used as a means to help with weed control.  Before tarping, I watered the beds, and then secured the tarps down.  The tarps help to heat up the soil and promote weed germination.  Once I am ready to plant in those beds I will remove the tarps and flame weed the newly emerged weeds.  This method is commonly referred to as the “stale seedbed technique” and is a great tool to increase crop yield through weed control.

If you are someone who commonly commutes on Beaver Ave I’m sure you are aware of the recent bridge work and road closure.  As much as we all dislike road construction, it has been wonderful for us because the detour now takes people right in front of the farm!  Lucky for you, in the next month so many new things will be happening at the farm that each time you drive by there should be more things for you to see!

Your Urban Farmher, Jenny

Luckily this is already cleaned up

Dirt work getting done at the site of the pole barn

3 content boys

Kale plugs ready for the ground

First two beds planted at DUG

Spring Break

Happy Spring Break!

While most of my fellow teachers and students are enjoying some R & R on a tropical beach or exploring beautiful ski slopes; I’m hunkered down in Des Moines spending the week getting the farm ready for the season.  This may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m actually very excited for this week!  The boys are still enjoying their days in daycare so Eric and I are able to knock out key farm tasks.  Now, all I ask is that the weather cooperates and allows us to get done everything that we plan to do.

This past week Jordan from Grade A Gardens was our rockstar!  He’s a proud owner of a BCS walk behind tractor, and he graciously allowed us to rent it from him.  Not only did he allow us to use it, but he came to our plot on two separate occasions and ran the BCS for us.  One day he rotary plowed the areas where we were unable to pull all the sod.  Another day he came out and tilled the whole plot.  

The initial plan was for me to come out and help him with the tilling, but that plan was quickly thwarted.  As I was getting the boys ready to head out to the farm, Walter decided to “catch a fall” on the corner of a table.  Instead of going to the farm to work, I ended up at an Urgent Care clinic getting Walter’s eye checked out.  Luckily no stitches were required and he handled it very well.  He’s one tough cookie!

The goal for the rest of this week is to get our beds formed (Jordan will bring the BCS over for one more session.)  Here’s a list of other tasks we hope to complete once the beds are created:

  • Broadfork any beds where root crops will be planted

  • Using our flame weeder, we will burn holes in our landscape fabric.  The landscape fabric will be used on steady crops (tomatoes, peppers, squash, and kale) which are planted essentially all season long.  

  • Install drip irrigation on our steady season crop beds

  • Setup poly low tunnels

  • Tarp beds to prep them for stale seed bedding

We had some rainy last couple of days, so our soil is too wet to be able to create the beds right now.  There is no rain predicted in the next few days, so I’m hopeful that is the case and the soil will be able to dry out enough to allow us to get all this work done.

Ideally, I get some seeds in the ground next week, so fingers crossed we can make this happen!

Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny


Oliver trying to steal the credit for the great work Jordan put in with his rotary plow.


You should see the other guy...

Spring Break to-do list

Salanova starts will be transplanted in about 3 weeks.

Positive Momentum

Lots of great things are happening at DUG giving us positive momentum as we quickly approach the u- and-coming grow season.  The farm is still a work in progress but more tasks are getting crossed off the “to-do list” daily.

The farm sign is currently under construction and making great progress!  My husband built it using wood from an oak tree that we had to cut down in our backyard.  Like so many of our farm projects, many people have contributed to the creation of this sign.  Once the sign is complete I'll blog about the whole process from start to finish.

I had a great week of meeting and connecting with chefs in the Des Moines metro. There is excitement toward what DUG is doing and it's always a bonus to get cell phone numbers from chefs!

I'm in the process of expanding the indoor nursery so I can get transplants started.  I was able to purchase a bulk amount of shop lights for a great deal and will be using those for starting the seeds. In an ideal world, transplants are exposed to more natural light as opposed to indoor lighting, but sadly we won’t be able to have a high tunnel this grow season.  I’m very optimistic we will have one for the 2017 season and will be able to use that for most of our transplants.  I’m learning quickly that part of farming is being able to adapt to your surroundings, and available resources, at the current time and place.

I was able to have two coffee meetings with ladies doing great things for the agricultural field in Des Moines.  Courtney Long works for the Iowa State University Community Design Lab and is also associated with the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit.  She has been traveling the Midwest visiting various farms and is is very plugged into local food systems.  She filled me in on different programs that could be helpful for me as well as talked me through ways to design the DUG farm plot.  I also met with Jennifer Miller from Clarion Sage in Waukee.  Jennifer and I have similiar grow philosophies and it was wonderful to pick her brain and learn more about her processes.  I’m looking forward to being able to distribute her products at our farm stand.

This past Saturday I visited Black Cat Acres in Nevada, IA.  Black Cat is an organic farm and is owned by Deb and Ken Blackledge.  Deb and Ken have been farming for many years and it was nice to be able to sit down with them and talk farm.  Honestly, I wish I could have stayed longer!  I drove there because they recently began distributing Cowsmo products (from Wisconsin).  Cowsmo is a highly reputable product  and I purchased organic compost and organic seed starting medium.   Along with the compost and potting mix, I also purchased homemade gourd birdhouses that Deb and Ken built.  They are beautiful and the whole production (from gourd growth, to painting, to creating a hanging mechanism) was done by Deb and Ken.  I’m excited to be able to sell them at our farm stand because they will make great homes for some lucky birds!

On one of my days off from teaching, I was able to attend a Transplant Production class that was hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.  Horticulturalists and Plant Pathologists discussed topics ranging from light, water, grow environment, pests/diseases, and growing mediums.  It was a very informative class and I’m glad I was able to attend.  I had a lot of great take-away points, but something else that was exciting was that it reinforced many ideas that I was already familiar with.  It was reassuring to feel like my knowledge base about growing plant transplants has a strong foundation.

With all these great things happening these past few weeks you would think my to do list would be getting smaller, yet somehow it keeps growing!  Let’s hope my plants grow as well as my lists!

Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny







Eric and Lucas bending hoops for low tunnels (and a sneak peak at the sign)


The current state of our nursery.  Within the next few days both grow racks will be equipped with lights, there will have a seed germination station, as well as 1 more rack for growing.


Adding some color to the microgreen arsenal with Bulls Blood Beets and Red Cabbage.  Both trays are 5 days post seed sowing.


Black Cat Acres beautiful farm


Notes from the Transplant Production course

For those of you starting you own transplants, this is a very helpful chart for soil temperatures for seed germination (

Sustainable Sweetheart

This past Friday, Dogpatch Urban Gardens was a sponsor for the Sustainable Sweetheart event hosted by Urban Ambassadors.  My husband and I were both able to attend and represent DUG.  We had so much fun and really enjoyed getting to know other people in the community who are also focused on sustainability.  

If you are new to the Urban Ambassadors I highly recommend you check them out.  They are a non-profit organization and their mission is, “Planting the seeds of sustainability for a greener greater Des Moines.  We help you clarify your sustainability goals, connect you with local resources, and make a positive impact in your community for a healthier planet.”  Take some time to explore their website to gain a better understanding of what the UA’s are all about.  

While at the event we were able to connect with some local businesses that are doing great things in the Des Moines area, and I wanted to share some of them with you (you can click on the company name to go to their websites):

BRAISED Bone Broth Company - Kate Brown is the founder of BRAISED and she was our neighbor table sponsor.  It was great getting to know Kate and her family.  Kate uses organic and local products to create a flavorful bone broth that is loaded with nutrition.  Her passion for the bone broth she creates is very obvious and you have to check out this product!  I loved sipping on the broth during the Sustainable Sweetheart event, and we even added DUG microgreens to the broth!  Be sure to read through their website to learn more about this amazing product:   

Fresh Cafe & Market - My husband and I really enjoyed meeting the owners of Fresh Cafe & Market.  Kerri Rush (aka the Wheatgrass girl) is very passionate about providing fresh, local, and organic food/drink options to the Des Moines community.  If you frequent the Downtown Des Moines Farmer’s Market you have probably seen their set up right in front of Mickey’s Irish Pub.  The cafe is located in the YMCA Healthy Living Center (12493 University Ave) and you do not have to be a member of the Y to enjoy their goodies! 

Plant Life Designs - Plant Life Designs’ slogan is, “Live among your plants.” Owner Tara Dudley has a background in both horticulture and design and uses her knowledge for landscape design, hardscapes, containers, floral arrangements, wreaths, and she will even help with weddings!  Browse through her photos on Facebook and you will be blown away by the things Tara creates!

Recycle Me Iowa  - We  were table neighbors with Recycling Ranger, Matt Becke, from Recycle Me Iowa.  He is a great guy and very passionate about providing affordable and convenient recycling programs and services to the Des Moines area.  If your home and/or work place does not have a recycling service definitely look into using RMI.

Be sure to check out these great organizations and help support those in the community that are working to make Des Moines a more sustainable place!

Love to all as Valentines Day is right around the corner!

Your Urban FarmHer, Jenny.



Here at Dogpatch Urban Gardens we aim to provide you all with the highest quality produce from seed to your plate.  Last week was an exciting milestone because all of our seeds for the 2016 growing season were ordered!  The companies we ordered seeds from are High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange.  Each of these companies align with our farm philosophies, and have signed the “Safe Seed Pledge” which is stated below:  

The Safe Seed Pledge:
"Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms poses great biological risks, as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities."

Here are some of the crops I am excited to offer you during the 2016 growing season...


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Spring Mix

  • A seasonal combination of lettuces (Tango, Nevada, Red Sails, Red Salad-bowl) Salanova, beet greens (Early Wonder Top & Bull's Blood), & Mustard Greens (Tatsoi, Red Giant, Ruby Streaks, & Scarlet Frills) 

Spicy Mix

  • A seasonal combination of arugula and mustard greens (Red Giant, Ruby Streaks, & Scarlet Frills)

Space Spinach

  • Characteristics: A tried and true spinach variety with smooth, medium dark green leaves.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional

Astro Arugula

  • Characteristics: Long green leaves and characteristic mildly spicy flavor.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Red Russian Kale

  • Characteristics: Bright purple stems and slate green, deeply lobed foliage. Leaves are tender, smooth and very sweet compared to other kale.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic


Starburst Carrot Blend

  • Characteristics: This rainbow of sweet and crunchy roots with striking shades of white, yellow, orange and purple in a variety of shapes and sizes. Flavorful, extra-nutritious roots are packed with antioxidants.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic


  • Characteristics: Truly stellar flavor and crispness, this variety is versatile and suitable for storage, bunching or soup-grade carrots.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic


Chioggia Guardsmark

  • Characteristics: Unique and beautiful beet with candied stripes of red and white on the interior.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional

Touchstone Gold

  • Characteristics: Striking golden fleshed beet with an excellent sweet flavor.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional


Cherry Belle

  • Characteristics: Classic, smooth red radish with attractive crispy white flesh (AAS winner).
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Easter Egg

  • Characteristics:  Beautiful multicolor mix of red, purple, and white round radishes with crisp and mild flavor.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional


Tokyo Market

  • Characteristics: Sweet, petite, juicy, smooth-skinned, tender, and delicious raw.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic


Sun Gold

  • Characteristics: Exceptionally sweet, bright tangerine-orange cherry tomatoes.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional


  • Characteristics: This plump red tomato is one of the most popular varieties and is very versatile.  Can be eaten fresh, sauced, roasted, canned, or frozen to use later.
  • Seed Source: Seed Savers Exchange
  • Seed Quality: Organic


Lunchbox Orange & Yellow

  • Characteristics: Sweet and flavorful snack-sized peppers.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Hungarian Hot Wax

  • Characteristics: Definitely, but not yet overly, hot.  These peppers are easy to stuff and are great for roasting, or frying.  Sunset-ripening peppers change from yellow to orange to red, and make attractive pickled peppers.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Summer Squash

Dark Star Zucchini

  • Characteristics: Dark green with glossy fruit.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Golden Glory Squash

  • Characteristics: Medium-dark vibrant yellow color.
  • Seed Source: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seed Quality: Conventional


Sweet Basil

  • Characteristics: Traditional Italian favorite used fresh, in vinegars and as the main ingredient for pesto.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

  • Characteristics: Classic flat leaf variety for use either fresh or dried for seasoning.
  • Seed Source: High Mowing
  • Seed Quality: Organic

To say I'm excited for spring is an understatement!

Your urban farmher, Jenny