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The spot to pick

This quirky U-pick flower farm is both old-fashioned and full of new ideas.
  • Busy bee!

    Cathy Lafrenz wants you to come visitin'. You may find her cutting lilies in one of the beds where she grows 8,000 annuals each year. Or she might be setting a table in the old corncrib that's been remodeled for tea parties (called the "corn-zebo"). She could be feeding the hens. Wait, she's in the Summer Kitchen selling fresh eggs and homemade wool scarves. There she is ducking under the teacup tree, heading to the Victorian farmhouse to teach a class on cheese making. Nobody does more with 2 acres -- or moves faster through them -- than Cathy Lafrenz. As her husband, Cliff, points out, "She doesn't ever walk slow! 

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Flower farm

    The Lafrenz U-pick flower farm, called Miss Effie's Country Flowers and Garden Stuff, sits among rolling hills in eastern Iowa, near Donahue. Customers come from as far away as Chicago to cut the perfect blossoms from an acre of blooms for wedding bouquets and parties. The price is $15 for as many flowers as you can fit in a plastic milk jug.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Naturally beautiful

    The flowers are grown naturally without pesticides. The selection changes by the season, so there is always something new. Jenny's Garden is a plot full of heirloom flowers. Besides flowers, you can cut bouquets of herbs for culinary and household needs, such as fresh basil for pesto, lavender for sachets, and mint for refreshing drinks.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Local goods

    The Summer Kitchen is Cathy's retail store on the farm that features locally raised and made treasures – everything from fresh eggs, dried flowers, and jam to hand-spun yarn, goat milk soap, and embroidered tea towels. Miss Effie's is dedicated to working with other local farm women to provide interesting and unusual items for the small store. 

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Enjoy the experience

    Experiencing the rural American lifestyle is an important part of Miss Effie's. Cathy says she "wants to reach your inner farm girl." She has a home economics degree and a long background in the 4-H program. It's easy to picture her giving a food demonstration as a youngster. 

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Learning lost arts

    The Heritage Lifestyle classes she teaches at Miss Effie's include how to make cheese, bake bread, can, preserve, and knit. "If your grandmother knew how to do it, you can learn, too," she says. She encourages each class member to wear a ruffled apron. In the fall, she offers cider-pressing classes for children, who get the opportunity to grind the apples and squeeze the juice. "After drinking the freshly made cider, they will never look at an apple the same way again," says Cathy.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Vintage treasures

    The acreage is full of special touches and vintage treasures. Lace-edged hankies flutter in the afternoon breeze from a clothesline. Assorted teacups hang from the branches of a crab apple tree. Cathy hung a few and customers brought the rest. Somehow, the delicate china doesn't break in the wind.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Just like going to Grandma's

    As a visitor, Cathy encourages you to bring your knitting and spend some time under a tree. "We want Miss Effie's to be like a visit to your grandmother's on a Sunday afternoon," she says. Speaking of Grandma, Cathy even does her laundry using a 1940s wringer washer.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Relax and enjoy!

    At Miss Effie's, you are urged to relax, enjoy a picnic on the grounds, smell the flowers, and add a cup to the teacup tree. If you stay long enough on a summer day, you could probably watch the corn grow. But don't expect Cathy to stop moving for that! 

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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  • Visit Miss Effie's

    Miss Effie's Country Flowers and Garden Stuff

    27387 130th Avenue
    Donahue, IA 52746

    Phone: 563/282-4338
    Email: cmlafrenz@netins.net
    Web: misseffiesflowers.com
    Blog: misseffiesdiary.blogspot.com/

    Miss Effie's is open year round.

    Date Published: July 11, 2012
    Date Updated: July 11, 2012
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