Country View: Kyle and Mari Holthaus
The Holthaus family sustain their farm through vegetable farming
Radio interview sources: Kyle and Mari Holthaus, Owners, Kymar Acres
Kyle and Mari Holthaus bought 15-acres of land near Waukon, Iowa, in 1998. It was set up for hogs, which is what Kyle enjoyed raising when he was growing up.
Unfortunately, the family had to make some big decisions when corn prices went up. They couldn't afford to buy corn, but didn't have enough ground to grow their own. Kyle says they sold the hogs, and started looking for another way to sustain the farm.
"There was a gentleman in the area that had an open house at his farm that was growing vegetables, had a CSA. At the open house I was talking around with some of the vegetable people that showed up, and said that he would like to put together a co-op of people to pool their stuff together and then sell it to institutions," he says. "From that meeting, our Grown Locally co-op was born up here in Northeast Iowa."
The Holthaus family now have five-acres devoted to growing vegetables, and also work four-acres of vegetables on their in-law's land. There is a homemade greenhouse for starting plants, and Kyle wants to extend the growing season by purchasing a hoop house.
The family participates in three farmers' markets, has an on-farm stand, and also sells wholesale through the Grown Locally co-op. Kyle says they even take special requests from customers.
"Like if somebody wants to do some canning, they'll call and say, can you try to have this number of like, cucumbers at a certain time," Kyle says. "We'll do that. We also do a couple of weddings for flowers. We used to do a lot more of the flowers, I'll bet at one time we were pushing close to an-acre-and-a-half of flowers. But when the economy kind of turned down, that really cut it. We still grow some, but not nearly what we did."
Kyle is planning for the future. His goal is to put a commercial kitchen in their packing shed so they can teach canning classes in addition to farming.
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