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Jenny Quiner brings local produce to Des Moines with DogPatch Urban Gardens

In the fall of 2015, Jenny Quiner launched Dogpatch Urban Gardens (DUG), the only for-profit farm inside Des Moines city limits.

Before starting the farm, Quiner was a high school science teacher for six years.

“It was a great gig, but in those six years I had three little boys and was just feeling compelled to do something else in my life,” said Quiner.

Just a few years later and Quiner has wrapped up her third successful season and Dogpatch Urban Gardens has become a well-known name within the Des Moines food scene.

The garden’s biggest source of revenue comes from its onsite farm stand, Quiner told Clay & Milk.  The DUG FarmStand is a seasonal onsite locally-sourced store that sells DUG products as well as other items from growers and producers throughout the state of Iowa. DUG also sells products to the Iowa Food Coop, local restaurants and through a subscription service called “Salad Subscription”.

In addition to selling food, the farm also contains an Air BnB called the “Urban FarmStay.”

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Dogpatch Urban Gardens is located in the middle of Des Moines and has turned an acre of land to a garden and farm stand selling other local producers goods. (Photo courtesy of DogPatch Urban Gardens).

An expensive roadblock

Earlier this year, county officials told Quiner that the farm stand operates more like a commercial business and would need to make changes in order to follow commercial business requirements.

The unplanned costs and changes forced the Quiners appeal for help from supporters with a Kickstarter campaign.

“We raised around $27,000 and our goal was $15,000,” Quiner said. “We were very excited with how the community rallied and supported us.”

Looking ahead

Quiner recently took part in the Fall 2018 cohort of Venture School to help her better understand who her primary customers are.

“It’s been fabulous connecting with other entrepreneurs in the area. I’ve really enjoyed the program,” Quiner said. “It has really allowed me to better get to know my customers and helped me pinpoint who I need to target my marketing towards.”

Next season, Quiner plans to start holding events to the farm including farm-to-table dinners and wellness workshops.

“We’ve also just added a commercial kitchen space,” Quiner said. So next season we’re going to be focusing in on grab and go options like ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches that people can come and by at the farm stand.”

Jenny Quiner brings local produce to Des Moines with DogPatch Urban Gardens | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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