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Angie Wieck, Published October 22 2012

A garden-variety job: Produce stand owner ‘fell in love’ with plants

FARGO – Shoppers have until Oct. 31 to pick up pumpkins and other fall produce at the Veggie Barn on South University Drive before the business closes for the season.

Co-owner Amanda Schlenker of Fargo recently talked about organic farming and what she enjoys about operating a summer produce stand.

How long has Veggie Barn been in business?

This is the fourth year that we’ve been doing the stand. The actual location is called Veggie Barn, but the business name is Lady Bug Acres because we use lady bugs as our pest control method. Instead of using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, we use lady bugs.

Is that all you use?

We use other chemicals that are approved for organic use. Everything here is organic.

Where is the produce raised?

The farm is in between Glyndon and Hawley (in Minnesota), north of Highway 10 about eight miles. We have 30 acres there.

Did you grow up on a farm?

I did not. My parents have no idea where I got the intuition to do this or where I get my green thumb.

Where do you think it comes from?

I went to school for biology and ecology. I’ve always been into the environment. I started working with his (business partner’s) daughter at a farmers market, and she thought I’d really enjoy the harvest portion of it. So, I went out there and just fell in love with it.

Do you help out at the farm?

Yes. We do everything from planting all the way through harvest.

Do you work during the winter?

I do a lot of my preserving. I try to do all my freezing during the summer and can in the winter. I make jams and salsas that I sell here.

Have you been canning for a long time?

Yes. I like to know where my food is coming from and that it’s grown without chemicals. I just like the freshness of the food, too.

Have you noticed a resurgence in canning?

Yes. There is, which makes me glad. It seems like it went away for so long. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but now people my age or younger are starting to get back into it.

Do people often ask you for tips?

Sometimes, but being on this side of the table I get a lot of tips, too. People will come in and buy massive amounts of peppers or something else, and I’ll ask what they’re planning to do with them. I have been given tons of recipes.

What is your favorite part about operating a produce stand?

I guess it’s just the whole growing process. It’s starting off with the seeds and then months later eating that produce for supper. I like having the connection with the customer, too. I think people like to meet their farmers and know where their food comes from.

What are your hours of operation?

We’re open from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” email businessnews@ forumcomm. com.