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Back Street Deals and Happy Hour Invite

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this post, I'd like to address the question, "Why are you running two blogs with the same content?" Good question, and to be honest, I am still trying to figure it out. The blog you are reading now is linked to our farm includes all the info you might need about the farm and how to order our products.

My other blog--In the Dirt--is part of the Iowa Writers Collaborative, and is supposed to included content not related to the farm, but yeah...I don't get to write much that is not about the farm.

So there you have it--subscribe either or both blogs, and give me a little more time to figure things out. Hopefully in the future there will be a better distinction between the two.

Ok Jesse - you happy?

Now on to the show...


We parked at the back of the parking lot, so as to not be too conspicuous. She handed me the cash, a 20 folded nicely, and laid in my hand quickly. I handed her the goods, each carefully weighed out and neatly packaged into baggies; she inspected each one by one and placed them delicately into the trunk of her car.

I was selling veggies to a customer in the parking lot of the Cheese Bar in Des Moines, a perfectly legal transaction that often ends up feeling like a clandestine drug deal. I text customers to let them know I am headed their way and which vegetables are ready, and we arrange to meet. We rendezvous in porticoes and back alleys, parking lots and driveways, sometimes selling meat, other times veggies, and most often, both.

Rachelle Chase with her bounty after meeting in a parking lot.

But despite the on-the-fly nature of these sales and our untethered storefront, these transactions warm my heart. For the customers, the interactions stand out in a week full of routine—more personal than shopping at the grocery store and lightyears more intimate than an Amazon or Blue Apron purchase. It’s more akin to a farmers market purchase, minus the heat, and the crafts, and the circus atmosphere.

For us, this system means we get to see our customers up close, to chat a bit about the produce, our lives, and theirs. For them, they go home with a great box of mixed produce and meats and a story or two about the farm. What we both get is the ability to take a few minutes out of our chaotic day to relax and be present with each other.

One of our favorite meeting spots is the front driveway of Wini Moranville’s apartment building. There the parking is ample, the entrance shaded and big trees surround us on all sides. The small group gathers and chats, realizing that some of them actually know each other already. It’s a small world in Des Moines.

Wini wrote to me about her experience of having us camp out in the front of her building:

“When I was in high school, I worked at the grooviest restaurant in town, a vegetarian restaurant called the Soup Kitchen. We wore these fun T-shirts that said, “Health Food Junkie” on them, and the shirts showed a shady-looking guy in a black trench coat revealing a carrot from his inside pocket. That’s what it feels like getting Beth and John’s deliveries. There’s this “secret society” aspect about it, but just as it was back in the Soup Kitchen’s day, everyone is welcome into this club. And it’s a great club to be in!”

I love that there is a feeling of belonging associated with the food we grow, that Wini feels like she is part of an inviting club and in the know. It’s what we ultimately want to cultivate on our farm—a sense of community. Yes, we grow great food on this farm and we are seeing important ecological changes. But for both John and I, it is the bringing together of people around the vision of our farm that we care about most.

I guess I preach about it often here, but to me the world feels way too serious these days, too much bad news and anxiety-producing warnings about everything (including the weather). And so to me it feels uplifting to be part of a team that wants to celebrate food and farming in this way, to create impromptu gatherings around tasty produce and meats. It feels like a mini-revolution (yes, tiny scale, but still…).

To this end Wini has an idea to host a happy hour out in front of her apartment building on September 8th. Details will soon follow, but for now, save the date (if you are in Iowa!) and make room in the frig for some farm fresh foods (ordering info coming soon).

Let’s spend an hour or two enjoying an evening chatting about food, and sharing our lives.

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