Nestled just south of Winterset in Madison County, at the end of a long dirt driveway and above the Middle River Valley, is Pepperharrow Farms owned by Adam and Jennifer O'Neal. Jennifer is a native of the Winterset area and her husband Adam, whom she met when they were both living in Colorado, is a native of Louisiana. Pepperharrow, which consists of approximately 20 acres, was launched in 2011. They are a charismatic and entrepreneurial couple that has a savvy understanding of horticulture and agronomy and combine it with the ability to do marketing, teaching, entertaining, and designing quite successfully.
As Jennifer and Adam describe it, their farm is quite gorgeous during the growing season with acres of gorgeous flowers. In fact, their website and social media accounts offer no shortage of evidence.
Earlier this winter, a couple weeks before Christmas, a friend and I ventured on down to their farm on a Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the cold temperatures and short days of an Iowa winter make things pretty brown and desolate.
We were there to take part in one of the many classes that they offer throughout the year. Given the proximity to Christmas, this particular class was on wreath making.
This class was held in this building, which is nicely set up to be an event space.
There is ample parking nearby.
A wood burning stove made the building especially cozy.
The exposed rafters, rustic beam, and beautiful lighting, along with the disco ball, add some great character.
For this class, Pepperharrow provided all of of the fresh cut greenery and other "add ins". By that, I mean they had a couple tables full of all kinds of other plants, twigs, and other things that might end up in a wreath. They let us know ahead of time that we could bring our own additional elements, such as bows or other adornments, to dress things up a bit if we wanted.
My particular class included 16 students and lasted about just under three hours. I was the only male (but you won't hear any complaints from me about that)! Like me, almost everyone else came with either a friend or group of friends. It was definitely a great activity to do on a "Sunday Funday".
There was an extensive offering of beverages and snacks and that helped loosen everyone up a bit and to get the creative energies flowing.
Adam and Jennifer started the class by talking a little about the history of the farm and how they met. Then, they spent about 20 minutes showing the basics of building a Christmas wreath.
After we got the basics down, they turned us loose to trim up our greenery and to start mixing in other elements.
Both Adam and Jennifer walked around and helped. Some of us needed more help than others.
I do not consider myself to be very creative. Though what I lack up for in creativity, I made up for in ambition. I was the first in the class to finish my wreath and mine was probably the most boisterous. There was not much of a pattern or theme to it, but I think it turned out okay.
My friend put a lot more thought and effort into hers. She is also more creative and I found her wreath to be quite beautiful.
The incredible thing is that all 16 wreaths turned out differently. They were all quite beautiful and smelled really fragrant as well.
Afterward, many of my classmates took their photo in front of this cute shed that has any number of uses for the farm. My wreath ended up in Northwest Iowa at my parents' farm. I know that a month later (as of the publishing of this post), it is still looking nice on the side of their home.
Beside selling cut flowers at venues such as the always popular Des Moines Farmers Market, Pepperharrow is also in the business of designing arrangements for weddings and other special events. You can also rent their farm as a wedding venue or photographers can rent the farm if they want a unique and colorful place to bring clients to get photos taken. You can also purchase any number of "experiences" at the farm such as a flower arranging class or even "a day at the farm". Not to mention, they have other products for sale throughout the year.
Iowa agriculture is more diverse than we give it credit for. I'm always a fan of entrepreneurs, especially rural entrepreneurs. If you run into Pepperharrow at one of the places they sell during the seasonal months, be sure to check out their beautiful offerings. And, if you get the chance to take one of their classes or attend one of their events, I wouldn't hesitate to do it.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Madison County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.