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Eastern Iowa household company products farmers markets|


May 8, 2022

DURANGO– As a kid, Tracy Merfeld regularly might be discovered at the Dubuque farmers market on Saturdays.

Her mom, Sheila “Dobie” Merfeld, was the freshly minted owner of Dobie’s Flowers & & Produce, offering her items at the marketplace beginning in 1994. Tracy and her more youthful siblings, Amy and Molly, typically occurred for the trip.

” It was much like a huge Tetris video game, squeezing all us kids and all the plants into the van,” Tracy remembered.

” Their benefit was to go to Walsh Stores if they were truly great,” Sheila included with a laugh.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports that almost 3 years later on, the household company is growing. Dobie’s deals veggies, fruits, herbs and eggs, along with fresh and dried flower plans and starter plants, at numerous location farmers markets, consisting of the Dubuque farmers market and the Dubuque winter season farmers market.

” I truly like to be able to offer items to individuals that value it,” Tracy stated, as she served clients at the winter season farmers market on a current weekend. “You get to speak with individuals that are getting to enjoy your things.”

Sheila started pursuing natural gardening on the household’s Durango land in 1981.

” I never ever truly gardened much in my more youthful years, however then it simply type of entered my blood,” she stated.

The name of business is drawn from a label Sheila obtained as a kid.

” I would stand in front of the television since everybody wished to enjoy (the comedy) ‘Dobie Gillis’ however I didn’t,” she stated. “So they ‘d state, ‘Get out of the method, Dobie,’ and after that they all began calling me Dobie.”

Equipped with a brilliant yellow van emblazoned with her company’ name, Sheila at first inhabited a single stall at the Dubuque farmers market. Business now stretches throughout 3 stalls– with the yellow van a Dobie’s hallmark– as it enters its 28th summer season at the marketplace.

Nowadays, Tracy manages the veggies and herbs for business, while Sheila tends to the flowers.

The whole household pitches in where required, nevertheless, with Sheila’s spouse, David, keeping devices in working order and their children assisting to organize flower arrangements.

Sheila hand-waters a lot of her greenhouse plants and checks the seedlings routinely, as the temperature level in the farm’s greenhouses can rise to 100 degrees in the summer season. She utilizes natural fertilizer, soil and pots and recycles all the plastic trays in which she purchases her cuttings.

” It’s practically hands on,” she stated on a current early morning, gesturing around among the greenhouses towards numerous little plants and seedlings.

Each tray was thoroughly marked to identify chives, spearmint, thyme, yarrow and other herbs and flowers.

Dobie’s Flowers & & Produce has actually seen its share of barriers, such as unpredictabilities and supply chain scarcities caused throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and summer seasons of dry weather condition and common weeds on the high, rocky surface of the household’s 10-acre residential or commercial property.

” It’s a lot more enjoyable to select flowers than to pull weeds,” Tracy quipped.

Sheila stated the household utilizes a no-till approach of growing that has actually triggered production to “increase” because it was executed about 3 years back.

” In 2015, we had a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers and potatoes,” she stated, keeping in mind that business likewise saw thriving sales in radishes and carrots.

The farm likewise boasts more than 200 blueberry bushes, along with 180 laying hens and some roosters.

Organization has actually been flourishing recently. Sheila stated the household is growing about 4 times more flowers this year than in 2015 due to increased need. The household just recently started growing treasure roses, which Sheila hopes will be prepared for clients in 2 to 3 years.

And, after 2 years at the winter season farmers market, increased ask for fruit and vegetables have actually led the Merfelds to broaden their winter season growing choices.

Dobie’s Flowers & & Produce has 2 greenhouses: A heated 20-foot-by-48-foot greenhouse in addition to an unheated 12-foot-by-20-foot greenhouse.

Sheila stated that the household is building a brand-new, bigger greenhouse, which will be 30 feet by 96 feet and will permit year-round, in-ground growing.

” Up up until this point, we have not felt the requirement to do year-round growing since we have not felt that neighborhood assistance,” she stated. “Now, individuals are requesting fruit and vegetables that we do not have, however we have the capacity of growing it now.”

Once the brand-new greenhouse is functional, preferably by early May, the 20-foot-by-48-foot greenhouse likely will function as retail area for clients who go to the farm to acquire plants, Sheila stated.

Shawn Vera has actually been a routine client at the Merfelds’ stand at the Dubuque farmers market for the previous 4 years and likewise visits them at the indoor winter season market to acquire herbs and flowers.

” Their service is simply sensational, and they have a great range of items that I can’t discover anywhere else,” Vera stated.

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