Wild Rose Pastures is a pasture raised poultry and grass fed beef farm located in Van Meter, just a 25 minute drive west of Des Moines. You can shop their products online here. Thanks Ryan & Janice for sharing your story with us!
What is the name of your farm and where are you located?
Wild Rose Pastures. We are located in Van Meter, 25 minute drive west of Des Moines.
Tell us a little about the make-up of your farm.
We started in 2007 by buying 40 acres north of Pella, IA. In 2015 we purchased and moved to 20 acres of the 800 acre family farm (since 1917), on which we are the 5th generation and our children would be the 6th generation. We both grew up in Ames (not on farms!) and so have been figuring out from there. Ryan got his Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and works the farm and raises our two children, and Janice works off-farm in Procurement at MidAmerican Energy.
What does your farm specialize in?
We raise pastured chicken, turkey, beef, and eggs. Our chicken is raised using chicken tractors that are moved daily and are fed GMO-free feed. Our turkey is raised similarly until the last few weeks when we have them free-range in a portable poultry net enclosure. Our beef is 100% grass-fed and we rotate our beef through our pasture in the warm season every 2-7 days. In the winter we feed hay that comes from other areas on the family farm.
Can you tell us a few things that make your signature product(s) special?
Our beef is Belted Galloway breed, which is a heritage breed that started as a cross between a beef and milk animal. The mothers give rich milk which helps our calves thrive, and the beef has wonderful flavor. Because they are 100% grass fed, we can’t even use corn to lure them onto the trailer–they look at us like we’re completely crazy because they don’t recognize it! We are also one of only a couple producers on the IFC who feed our chicken GMO-free feed. Lastly, our turkeys are extremely low in fat and water. I have fed 14 adults on a 9 pound turkey before (our first season, it’s all we had left that we hadn’t sold), because there’s even meat on the backs of our birds!
What is your farm’s biggest season?
Our selling season starts in June and goes until we run out of product (usually January-March). June-October we have chicken, August-November we have beef, and October-November we have turkey.
Are there any special processes involved with harvesting or processing your products? Can you tell us about them?
We take our meat to a local state-inspected locker (Story City Locker). We have them do any value-added processes to our meats (smoking turkeys, making summer sausage from beef, etc.) so you know our product has been harvested by a true professional!
What is the most important thing for consumers to know about your products?
Our tagline is “You are what your food eats” and we do our best to keep that in mind with everything we raise. We even have a couple of customers who are vegetarians, but will eat our meat on occasion because they know we raise our animals with care and pastured meat is the leanest, healthiest, and most flavorful option!
Do you have a funny/interesting/surprising story about your business?
For our very first year raising chickens, our “farm truck” was a Volvo 240 with a hitch on the back, towing a home-built trailer that Ryan assembled in one all-nighter the day before Locker Day. As he drove down a gravel road on the way to the locker in the middle of nowhere at 5AM, he looked in his mirror and wondered why there were white spots on the road behind him. It turned out that the homebuilt trailer’s door had managed to work itself open and chickens were escaping out the back! He got them herded up and we know we didn’t lose too many that day, but I still wonder how many chickens we “released to the wild” in some Iowa back country…
Anything else we should know?
We started as producers relatively early in the Iowa Food Cooperative, and were skeptical to join at first. But we have been so happy we did join on and it has been wonderful! The customers on the IFC are so well-educated, adventurous, courteous, and patient with the curve balls that life can throw a farmer’s way! We are continuously grateful to be part of the IFC.