Hi, there. We’re the Wills family — and that’s all 18 of us!
In 1991, we purchased 32 acres about 20 minutes west of Des Moines, Iowa. We put up a small shed for our tools and a small tree house for our kids to play in. In 1992, we spent our time planting and taking care of our very first apple trees, growing a garden, and building our house. The next year we moved into our earth-berm basement home. Before our fourth child was born, it was time to take the roof off of our basement home and build our house addition above. As we built our house, we continued to grow our family and our farm — all with the help of family and friends!
In 1997, we called friends and family to let them know that we actually had apples to sell! In those days, we sold our apples right out of our house. Eventually, we started selling them off of our front porch. This seems crazy looking back, and it seemed crazy at the time! Nevertheless, we had to start somewhere. We then made a little store out of our breezeway between our house and garage. When we outgrew the breezeway store in 2009, we moved up to our current barn that we built the previous summer. We have had great support from our family, friends, and customers throughout the years, and that has allowed us to grow.
Our farm consists of 60 acres; 30 of those acres are in timber. Though we have left the woods that surround us nearly untouched, we continue to plant more apple, peach, and cherry trees each year. We now have approximately four acres of apple trees, one acre of peach trees, five acres of pumpkins, one acre of winter squash and ornamental gourds, a large strawberry patch, and laying hens.
We are mindful of how our farming practices impact our soil, food crops, timber, water resources, and those who work, play, and visit here. Consequently, we have chosen to use science-based biological methods that are also organically approved for producing our fruit crops. All of our orchards, squash, pie pumpkins, and strawberries are Certified Organic. Our jack o’lantern pumpkins and gourds are very minimally sprayed with the softest of conventional products until we discover more biologically based ways to manage them.
Our farm is also home to many kinds of birds. When you visit, you will see a number of bluebird houses scattered around the farm and maybe even the bluebird families that live in them. Our environment is the perfect location for all kinds of critters — which is why we have put up 30 acres of deer fence that’s eight feet tall!
While we say we own the land, we really don’t and we really can’t — we only borrow it for a very brief time from future generations. What we do own is the responsibility to take care of it!