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RENEW IOWA: Local food available this weekend at Winter Market

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It’s cold and snowy outside, but central Iowa farmers are getting ready to bring their goods to the market. You can get your hands on fresh eggs, holiday hams, even produce at the Downtown Farmers’ Winter Market this weekend in downtown Des Moines.

Tyler Flinn and Chelsey Soder say they have their dream jobs. Flinn says, “We get to play in the dirt and get paid for it. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

It’s hard to play in the dirt this time of year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working. The young couple owns Busy Bee Garden Center in Indianola. They started farming three years ago growing unique plants and a variety of vegetables. Sodor says, “We’ve always been interested in it. As small kids we were always out gardening. We went to school for horticulture and then we had the opportunity to buy a greenhouse for a good price.”

They also raise about 100 free range chickens. They feed and collect their eggs twice a day throughout the year. They’ll have free range eggs, winter squash and house plants at the Winter Market.

They say farming is a year long job. Of course the winter is slower, but they say they’re always planning and even start planting in February. Sodor says, “We turn the greenhouse on in the first week of February. The geraniums, some of our longer crops need time. And, then we open the second weekend of April.” Sodor says that’s when they’ll start working from six in the morning until ten at night seven days a week.

They say they love growing food and now hope to grow their business. Flinn says, “We try to double each year.” Sodor says, “We’d like to take this quite a bit further. We have big dreams about what we want to do with our business.”

More than 120 vendors will be on hand this Friday and Saturday. The market is at 400 Locust Street in downtown Des Moines. It runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to local food, you’ll find crafts, fresh cut trees and poinsettias.