A labor of love.
Darin and Melissa Waldner never planned to operate a small produce business in Webster. The idea simply grew out of nowhere.
The seeds of Waldner Farms were planted in 2012, when 10 acres of land on the edge of Webster went up for sale. Darin and Melissa bought the property with plans to build a home on it. In the meantime, they decided to plant a small garden there. Darin’s parents, Ike and Sue, and family friends were excited to help. They spent their summer nights and weekends tending the garden.
“We had so much fun just hanging out. I learned how to can and the guys dabbled in winemaking. We spent a lot of time in the garden just bonding and having fun,” says Melissa.
In a twist of fate, a house just ¾ of a mile down the road from “the garden” went up for sale, and Darin and Melissa decided to buy instead of build. This left the ten acres available for planting…and more planting…and more planting. As they expanded the size of the garden, the families decided to take their excess fruits and vegetables to the Webster Farmer’s Market.
It was so successful, they began planting produce specifically to sell.
Today, Waldner Farms is a thriving locally grown fresh produce business that is gaining a true following. In addition to the Tuesday Farmer’s Market in Webster, they have also opened up Waldner Farms on Saturdays to the general public.
“It’s fun for people to experience harvesting their own fruits and vegetables,” says Melissa. “The farm attracts people from all around the area and we’ve been seeing a lot more visitors from other places. We even had a family from Australia pick sweet corn with us this summer!”
While the Waldner’s still consider “the garden” to be mainly a hobby, Melissa did start a Facebook page for the Webster Farmer’s Market and utilizes social media to market Waldner Farms. As the Economic Development Director for Day County, she understands that Waldner Farms provides a unique community benefit. Through her involvement with Dakota Resources, she also understands the value of locally grown goods when it comes to community and economic impact.
“In the back of my head, I know we aren’t just sharing our produce. We’re helping make Webster a destination,” she says. “I never imagined we would be doing this, but our little garden has become something that allows us to share a lot of joy with a lot of people. It’s good for Webster and it’s really good for us.” Here are just a few of the things you’ll find growing in the garden:
- Sweet Corn
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Egg Plant