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‘It’s the right thing to do’

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:58 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:04 p.m. CST
Caption
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
Farmer Denny Wimmer of Wimmer Farms in Aripse greets customers Phil and Jacob Franklin at Creston's Farmers' Market.

After taking over the family farm in Arispe just a year and a-half ago, farmer Denny Wimmer is now offering certified natural produce at Creston Hy-Vee, four farmers’ markets, one co-op and selling to a variety of local businesses.

Wimmer Farms, which is six years shy of becoming a century farm, was purchased by Wimmer and his wife Patty in 2011 after returning to Iowa from Chicago, after 29 years. Wimmer, who grew up in Arispe and later studied argonomy at Iowa State University, said his focus is on organic and naturally-grown food because “it’s the right thing to do.”

“The most important thing is to ask where it (produce) came from and how it was grown,” said Wimmer.

Wimmer said some vendors at farmers’ markets, particularly in the urban-area markets, are wholesalers. Wimmer said to truly know what you are consuming, you can find out pretty quickly just by asking about the product.

Wimmer produce is not certified organic, because of the cumbersome process; however, it is naturally grown, pesticide and chemical-free.

Tending the farm

Wimmer Farms covers 75 acres, on which two 30- by 96-foot high tunnels sit.

Inside the high tunnels, which allow up to 50 percent more growth and enable Wimmer to extend his growing season into the late fall, Wimmer is growing tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, and a variety of berries, including aronia berries, which Wimmer said has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food.

Wimmer’s process is painstaking and intensive, with much of his produce planted and harvested by hand.

To keep pests away, Wimmer uses “BT,” also known as bacillus thuringiensis. Wimmer said this type of organic pesticide is environmentally friendly. BT also has little or no effect on humans, animals, pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Black plastic mulch and cover crops are used to prevent weeds. The mulch and cover crops work by preventing light from reaching the surface of the soil, which prevents most weeds from growing.

“The rest I weed by hand,” said Wimmer.

Where to buy

Creston Hy-Vee now carries Wimmer Farms produce.

“We buy a lot (from local producers) during the summer and good growing seasons,” said Creston Hy-Vee Store Director Chuck Irelan.

Currently, Hy-Vee offers produce from 10 to 12 local producers. On Monday, Irelan picked up calla lilies from Hilltop Garden and Green House in Lorimor, to be sold at Creston Hy-Vee.

“A lot of our flowers are from Red Oak greenhouses and our top soil is produced in the Midwest,” said Irelan. “So, a lot of what we offer is locally-grown.”

Hy-Vee’s produce manager said he hoping to work with more local producers like Wimmer and help them market their products.

To purchase produce from Wimmer Farms, visit Creston Hy-Vee or Creston’s outdoor Farmers’ Market in McKinley Park, email denny@wimmerfarms.com or call (641) 278-0735.

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