Farmstand’s Year of Growth

Webster City greenhouse continues to thrive

WEBSTER CITY — At Farmstand, it’s the Year of Growth. That’s what owners Zoami Calles Sosa and Antonio Rios call it.

The couple opened the greenhouse at 1544 Second St. in 2021. They refer to that year as the Great Planting.

Farmstand’s second year, 2022, they call the Year of Rooting.

Growth is, of course, the natural progression.

“We are going to have tons of more plants and flowers!” Calles Sosa said. “And produce will start coming on sometime in May, though we already have tiny little tomatoes on some of our plants for Mother’s Day.

“We grow about 90 to 95 percent of all our vegetable plants,” she said. “Before opening Farmstand, that’s what my family focused on primarily. Selling vegetable plants followed by produce. While we mostly sell my family’s vegetables, we did try to sell other people’s … but it got complicated. Narrowing on quality is very, very important and so we are trying to find the best way to go about it.”

Her family farms in Sac County.

“We (Farmstand) couldn’t be here without the support of my parents and sister. Like none of this happens without them. So, it’s definitely a family affair.”

Not everything comes from the farm, though.

“Our flowers are a more complicated set up. We grow some Proven Winners plants and those come to us as tiny baby plugs. We aren’t big enough to do our own from scratch there,” she said. “Succulents, tropical plants, and perennials are a similar story. As for the rest of the annuals, we are trying to grow from seed.”

Anna Woodward, Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce director, said locally the couple helps to grow more than plants; they help grow Webster City.

“Zoami and Antonio are very active community members and have always been supportive members of the Chamber. Farmstand offers locally grown produce and plants that many communities only have access to on a much more limited basis.”

Calles Sosa said the warmth with which they have been welcomed is noticed.

“I want people to know that I’m very grateful and appreciative of everyone’s support. I know that we have been through tough times these last few years, and, perhaps it hasn’t been the best time to start a business, but we have a strong community and we couldn’t do it without them.

She added, “I could talk about a million times these last few years where customers have gone out of their way to be kind and generous with us. But there is one that’s on top of my mind right now. We had a customer that came once to buy this type of flower, a mandevilla. He left and then he came back again … and again on the same day, and left a tip. He told me how much he loved our flowers and he had realized he just had to have more (of the same flower). This whole interaction left me tearing up. I was so touched and grateful to have the opportunity to brighten up someone’s day. You see, the whole point of Farmstand is not to sell flowers or vegetables or anything really. The whole point is to help make people’s life better … it just happens to be through flowers and fresh produce.”

The couple will be a part of another great planting when the weather warms up in May. Farmstand will this year supply the plants that will go into the many downtown planters that line Webster City’s main street.

Kevin Rubash, who owns the design firm Interior Spaces in the 600 block downtown, said this year the plants chosen will directly relate to the Webster City schools’ mascot.

“Plum Daddy, Mini Vista Midnight, Cordylena Jade,” he said. “These are the plants we are planting this year. They will be a purple display to honor the Lynx.

Planting day is May 9.

“The SSMID Association (Self Supported Municipal Improvement District) or property owners in the downtown area pay for all of the downtown beautifications,” Rubash said. “One of these elements is the planters. This year we are happy to be partnering with Farmstand to provide the Proven Winner flowers that will be planted in the containers. Dick Carlson from the (Town & Country) garden club and his local club members will be the ones to plant up the containers and Aw.some Mowing from Webster City will be in charge of watering them this year.”

What are home gardeners collecting?

“I would say that the popularity of plants depends on the time of year,” Calles Sosa said. “For example, in early spring, cold-tolerant plants are more popular. During the fall, mums definitely take the crown.”

For her, no plant is more special than the next.

“Like all parents, I don’t think I have a favorite child. I love every single plant the same. They are all my babies.”

Nurturing those plants one by one, much like nurturing Farmstand one year at a time and naming its progression, is just the beginning. Together, Zoami Calles Sosa and Antonio Rios are laying the foundation of a much more ambitious future.

“It is my hope that Farmstand will be much more than just a greenhouse/flower business and will be opened year-round. Though, that’s more of a long-term thing,” Calles Sosa said.

“Right now, due to all the financial and business constraints, it’s a slow process. But we’ll get there.”

After all, it’s the Year of Growth.


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