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.”
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.”
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.”