Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Jenny Quiner
Jenny Quiner is the owner and operator of Des Moines’ urban farm, Dogpatch Urban Gardens and offers amazing produce, fun workshops for our community. Not only does she run an awesome business, but she is a huge supporter of her community and mom! Learn more about her urban farm, and some of her best parenting tips.
Give us a little background of your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life?
Both my husband (Eric) and I are Des Moines natives. I grew up in Urbandale and attended Dowling Catholic High School, and my husband is a Johnston High School grad. We didn’t meet each other until my senior year at the University of Iowa, but we actually had many mutual friends and ran in some of the same circles.
We have three loving, ornery, dirty, and caring boys. Oliver is 7, Walter is 5, & Lewis is 3. They are each other’s best friends and it is so fun to watch them grow up together and see their different personalities evolve. I’m sure all parents can attest to this, but it always amazes me how kids can be raised the same way yet be so different from each other. I see this in my boys and as they get older it is great to see what drives/motivates each of them.
What is your business, and what do you do?
I own/operate Dogpatch Urban Gardens (DUG). DUG is an urban farm located at 5085 Meredith Drive (just north of Beaverdale). A quick summary of my business is I grow produce, sell products through our onsite farmstand, sell greens to local restaurants, have an onsite Air BnB, and host events on our farm.
This is our 4th growing season and the business has evolved over the 4 years. A major aspect of the business is the DUG FarmStand. The FarmStand is located at the farm and we sell the products we grow and also products from other local growers, producers, ranchers, etc.
You can think of the DUG FarmStand as the outside isles of a grocery store. We have seasonal produce, meats, cheese, honey, salsa, coffee, ice cream, and more. This season we added a commercial kitchen which allows us to sell ready to eat salads, wraps, and sandwiches made using our fresh produce.
This is the first season we starting hosting events at the farm. We host 4 high-end dinners called our FarmStand to Fork series. We have some of Des Moines best chefs come to the farm and prepare a meal featuring items we grow/sell at the FarmStand.
We also host educational workshops and even have a wedding booked on our land in October.
The farm business is diversified and we offer quite a few services/opportunities for many people in the Des Moines community to be a part of the farm. I find that people really want to have a connection to their food and there’s a growing demand for people who want to have a personal relationship with their farmer. Allowing people to connect with both our food and the community is a driving force for the business.
Why did you become a small business owner?
Before farming, I was a high school science teacher at Dowling Catholic High School. I loved the job, but in my six years of teaching, I had my three boys and was feeling pulled in a different direction.
I never grew up with a farming background, but loved the idea of building a business that would enhance our community. For many reasons, the farm business worked out for our family in a serendipitous way.
I truly love farming but more and more realize I love being an entrepreneur. As a small business owner, you wear so many different hats and I enjoy the challenge and unpredictability of what each day brings.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
Get Air is a favorite for all three of my boys. I tend to like places that are calm and quiet, so It’s not necessarily my favorite place to be, but it’s not about me…right?
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
This is tough to pick just one spot! This summer we have all enjoyed Northwest Pool. It’s close to our home and has something for all my boys. We also love to go to Jasper Winery for their Thursday night concert series. Last, I can’t leave out Jester Park!
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
Our perfect night would start with a stop (or two) at a local brewery. Peace Tree, 515, and Confluence are our favorites. After a few brews, it would be great to take a stroll around Grey’s Lake. Then we would hit up one of our favorite restaurants (we really like to eat at the places that support the farm and buy produce from DUG). St Kilda, Harbinger, Proof, The Cheese Shop, & Table 128 are some of our top choices.
In an ideal world, we would eat dinner and then get to watch some live music. BUT, if I’m being honest, I’m usually in bed by 9 pm, so after a few drinks and dinner, I’m usually ready to crash!
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
First off, I will say being a small business owner with young kids is not easy. There are only so many hours in the day and some things have to give!
I’m a morning person, so I am the most productive when I wake up around 5:30 am and knock out a lot of tasks before the kids wake up. Knowing I only have a small window of time to work forces me to be productive and cross off a lot of tasks before the day really gets rolling.
I’m still figuring out the whole process of juggling all the tasks, but I have found that each year it gets easier and easier. I’m setting up better systems with my business and making things more efficient.
I’ve been blessed to find great employees who have been a life-saver. I have people working for me that are dedicated and trusting and having a strong team is allowing me more flexibility with my time.
What is your number one parenting tip?
Let kids be kids. Give them the freedom to explore, get dirty, play outside, and learn through experiences.