Kristi Bellmann is not a newcomer to farm and garden life. She grew up on a dairy farm and has led her family into the farmers’ market arena. After her son was born, Kristi began growing vegetables and selling them at market to supplement her income. A year later, her parents joined her, adding eggs, beef, pork, and chicken to her offerings. This addition made them the first meat vendors at Dubuque farmers’ markets.
Since that time, Kristi’s sale items and farming practices have continued to grow. She takes advantage of the many opportunities for education and improvement available in the region. Kristi has learned and implemented various methods of extending her variety of produce and the growing season. She has added hoop houses and high tunnels to accomplish that purpose.
Kristi does most of the work in her gardens by herself, with occasional help from her two children, ages 9 and 5. At harvest time, she sometimes hires a couple of high school students. To improve the efficiency of their operation, Kristi’s family is installing a robotic milking system this spring. It’s been a busy winter since they’re doing a lot of the construction themselves, but once the system is up and running it will help increase their quality of life and decrease some of the stresses of farming.
While many rush to market in order to buy Kristi’s prized spinach (expected again in March!) and salad greens, her stand boasts much more. During the growing season, there is hardly a vegetable she does not sell. In winter, carrots and root vegetables, including beets and turnips, blue, red, and white potatoes decorate her table. Even this late in the season she has a surprising amount of home-grown produce available. Kristi also offers a wide variety of jams and jellies. Year round, meats, eggs, and cheese are available.
Stop by Kristi’s Perfect Produce market stand any week, and you will surely find something to improve your week’s menus. If you plan your stop at a moment when they are not busy, you will find Kristi a highly knowledgeable, albeit humble, gardener, who loves sharing all that she has learned about growing “perfect produce.”