Iowa City family opens 2nd farm business near Des Moines.


CUMMING, Iowa (AP) — Paul Rush pulls two red free apple trees at Wilson Orchard and Farm, about 5 miles northeast of downtown Iowa City.

The tropical sweet apples are among the 100 varieties that make up the centerpiece of your growing family business. Beyond the traditional “you pick” applesauce and pumpkin patch, the family added strawberries, raspberries and blueberries; zinnias, dahlias and other flowers; weddings, music and other special events; a cider business; Livestock work; and a farm-to-table restaurant and barbecue smokehouse.

Now, the nearly four-decade-old Iowa City headquarters in Cummings, a town of about 500 people southwest of Des Moines, is planting a second orchard and building the state’s first agricultural, 900-story restaurant and event center. Acreage development called Middlebrook. The $800 million mixed-use residential, retail and commercial project is focused on agriculture, with orchards joining a giant community garden.

The Wilson Des Moines Metro Garden will sit on 115 acres, 30 of which are dedicated to cattle grazing. “The rest will be in fruit trees, fruits, pumpkins, flowers, vegetables, but also in fields and places where nature is left to express itself,” Rush said in a video announcing the project on Thursday.

The goal is to connect people with food and “the land they come from”.

We have long dreamed of expanding to Des Moines.” Rush told the Des Moines Register that he searched for a year without success for a place with beautiful hills, ponds and woods close to the capital. He found mostly flat corn fields.

“It looks like it’s not going to happen,” he said, until a Middlebrook developer adds 160 acres to the project. “And everything fell into place.”

The plan for the new garden grew organically when Rush’s children and his wife, Sarah Goring, Kathy and Jacob Goring, joined the business, bringing their own skills and ideas. In the year Rasch, who bought the orchard with his wife in 2009, said the family wants to make the operation environmentally and financially sustainable.

“We want to be more diverse. We want to expand how long we’re open,” said Rush, who spent the summer planting apple trees, strawberries and raspberries at his orchard west of Middlebrook. And now it’s a whole year.

“It’s a slippery slope,” he said of his family’s growing business, which last year drew about 265,000 people to Iowa City’s gardens, markets and restaurants. “He developed his own energy.”

As Rush walks through Iowa City Gardens, he talks about some of the extras associated with visitors. The flower garden is full of colors on a quarter acre of land, and visitors can cut or buy at the farm market. You can also walk across the bridge and wander among the sunflowers you can pick.

“People just love them,” Rasch said. The flower gardens are also a popular spot for photos.

Bees and other pollinators love flowers.

“We’ve seen a lot of natives come back,” said Rasch, who brings in commercial hives every year to pollinate fruit trees.

Cutting back on summer mowing also helps pollinators, with Rush walking through a lawn full of purple clover.

“We used to do a lot of mowing. But we’ve come to the conclusion that not being so excited has its benefits.

The habitat supports insects that help protect the crops.

“Ninety-seven percent of souls are good people. When I was growing up, all insects were bad guys,” said Rush, a fifth-generation farmer who grew up in Michigan, where his family grew apples, cherries, pears and other fruits. “We made them naked. We live on sprinklers.”

But we have learned not to do that. “If you let 97% of them do their work – I’m not saying we don’t do anything – but you don’t have to do that much,” he said, adding that new technologies have helped his efforts.

For example, the farm uses pheromone disruption to prevent harmful moths from laying eggs in apples, where the caterpillars later eat the hatchlings. The workers tie pheromone patches to the trees, flooding the garden with scent, making it difficult for the females to find and mate.

“It’s very expensive, but there are no pesticides,” Rush said.

Farming is “more than taking one or two big steps. “It takes a zillion small steps to make this work,” he says.Like mowing in the fall, nesting eagles, hawks and other predators can help control bark-eating that damages fruit trees.

After Rush apples are pressed for cider, he feeds the remaining pulp, skin, core, stem and seeds – to the sheep, pigs and cattle he and other farmers raise. The meat, along with produce, is served at the family’s ciderhouse restaurant and grab-and-go BBQ stand, the Smokehouse.

The family built restaurants and event space after Cathy Goring saw customer demand, and the family moved a renovated barn onto the property to house their new venture.

“We decided to have food, we decided to have good food,” said chef Matt Steigerwald, who runs James Beard Award finalist Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon. The restaurants menu features products from the garden and regional farms.

Katie Goring, who is developing Cummings Gardens, said the family’s next step is to build a 20,000-square-foot farm market and bakery, cider bar and restaurant, as well as a cider cellar and production facility this fall. The first available strawberry business and garden will open next year. The family plans to build the event space after a year.

Rush presents Cummings Restaurant CDs.

“Most people don’t know this, but Iowa was one of the largest apple producers in America and before Prohibition, hard cider was the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country,” he said in a video introducing the project. “One of our goals as a company is to re-establish cigar and cider culture in Iowa.”

Steigerwald, the business’s culinary coordinator, manages the Cummings restaurant as well as the Iowa City location. The family also owns a 90-acre commercial orchard in Solon, between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, where they sell their business in the Des Moines metro area as well as in eastern Iowa.

While the Iowa City restaurant leans toward fine dining, Katie Goring said the Cummings restaurant’s farm-to-table cuisine will be more casual, with grab-and-go options also available. The new orchard will offer fine dining experiences with special events in Iowa City, including a full moon dinner featuring prix fixe dishes paired with cigars, she said.

“The consistent theme in all food is quality – carefully sourced local ingredients,” said Jacob Goering.

Rush said it’s important to Iowa City and Cummings that the garden is a place where people can enjoy themselves more often.

“We don’t want this to be a once-a-year destination,” he said.

“We have a lot of special events going on in Des Moines,” Rush said of Iowa City.

Steve Brewer, president of Diligence Development, the company that develops Middlebrook Farms, said he envisions Wilson’s garden joining the community garden at the community park, where 400 to 500 people gather every Friday during the summer.

Families armed with lawn chairs can purchase garden produce, wine, cocktails and dinner at one of 20 vendor stations, while enjoying free music. The city is popular with cyclists on the Great Western Trail, which runs from Des Moines to Cummings.

The developers are connecting the farm to the trail and are also building paths that will run through the development, including Wilson’s garden. The development will eventually have 1,500 homes, to be built over the next decade, and already contains Middlebrook Mercantile, an upscale bar and general store.

Brure said Wilson’s Orchard will make Cummings even more of a destination for metro residents.

“No one complains that there are too many wineries in California,” he said.



Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment

two + 10 =