Wilber’s Produce: the evolution of a vegetable and fruit farm
by Emily Coll, program coordinator
Scott and Julie Wilber have been farming in Boone County for more than 10 years. Wilber’s Produce provides area residents with delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables grown on 18 acres. They erected a high tunnel in 2010, which enabled them to offer tomatoes and other vegetables earlier than their competitors.
The original idea of their produce farm was to sell at the Boone farmers market. In their 10 years, the farm has sold to grocery stores, ISU Dining Services and some restaurants. But the farm stand is still the most profitable outlet.
Some grocery stores like Hy-Vee have set a goal to purchase a percentage of produce from local sources. Scott said this trend has changed his marketing dramatically over the last five years. Now produce managers are calling him for his products, rather than the other way around.
A good decision
“We purchased the farm stand in 2012 and it’s been a great business decision for us,” said Julie. “Business has picked up year after year.” They are exploring another market: growing on contract for a food business. Scott believes this could be a great opportunity to not only further diversify their markets but to add income.
One of their favorite annual events is at a parochial school in Boone. The school sets up a small farmers market and each student receives a $5 voucher to spend at the booths. “It teaches the kids about buying locally grown food, but also teaches them financial skills,” said Scott.
To learn more about Wilber’s Produce, check out their Facebook page.