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Flower farm owner looks forward to better year

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS — Hannah Scates Kettler shows off the flower beds she worked on this winter at Minerva’s Meadow near State Center.

STATE CENTER — When thinking of farms, it is easy to imagine fields of corn and soy — after all, this is Iowa.

But what about flowers?

Near State Center is a no-till, organic flower farm called Minerva’s Meadow, and it was started in 2020. Hannah Scates Kettler, 32, and her husband, Kurtis Kettler, 33, bought some land in 2019 and opened their business in March 2020. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The plan to sell flowers directly to customers took a hit.

“We decided that was not a good idea and did more research on how to sell online, but I prefer making direct contact with people,” she said. “We shifted from trying to sell plants we were familiar with to focusing on infrastructure needed.”

That infrastructure building has carried them through the pandemic, through the August derecho and into the winter months — a time Hannah said is remarkably busy.

Dahlias are one of the flowers people will be able to find from Minerva’s Meadow near State Center this year. The flower farm got a rough start in 2020, but is ready to move ahead with fresh buds and petals for customers in 2021.

“Winter is prime time for planning things like setting goals for next year — what to plant and when to plant it; outlining the calendar so we have blooms throughout the season; making repairs, of which there are a lot after the derecho,” she said.

Not only did Minerva’s Meadow take a hit from the derecho, but also from the spring tornado, which was spotted east of their land.

“It has been one of those years,” Hannah said. “The silver lining is that even though we could not go out and sell flowers, we could place more focus on developing a solid product.”

The plan is for Minerva’s Meadow to have a greater presence at farmer’s markets — particularly the Cartwright Farmer’s Market in Marshalltown. She would also like to play a role in the annual Rose Festival in State Center. That event was indefinitely postponed in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Rose Festival is scheduled to begin June 17.

The flower farm got its name from the Minerva watershed the land sits on, and also from Hannah’s background in anthropology and classical archaeology. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom.

Flowers are not the only plants that get attention at Minerva’s Meadow near State Center. Owner Hannah Scates Kettler strings some Christmas lights on one of the yard trees.

“The name is a direct call to nature and to a female figure,” Hannah said. “Using the word ‘meadow,’ we are underscoring the type of environment we want to create. We want to reinstate natural prairie grasses and flowers.”

Some of the flowers people will be able to obtain from Minerva’s Meadow are coneflowers, yarrow, lavender, dahlias, daisies, salvia, rose lilies and more.

Hannah hopes to integrate lavender into the farm, as well as lilac, bees, honey and duck eggs. She wants to produce and provide people with essential oils made from the lavender. The duck eggs are also something Hannah would like to sell as she said they are great for baking.

“They have a richer flavor,” she said. “Ducks are also better at pest management. They are more efficient at eating ticks than chickens are.”

Now that 2020 is over, Hannah is looking forward to establishing Minerva’s Meadow’s presence in the Marshall County community.

“I want to focus on supplying locals with good flowers,” she said. “I am not interested in being a national flower supplier. I want to focus on cultivating in this community. I have been stuck at home. I want to get out there. I am ready to be outside and meet people, make connections and provide flowers. I look forward to connecting with everyone again.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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