Glory Garden offers new road to veggies: Buy fresh picked, online

By Rosemary McCoy

When Anna Maifeld started Glory Garden at her family’s home north of Sioux Falls, she wanted to give vegetable buyers a better option.

She wanted to grow produce that would be full of flavor, sell customers only what they wanted and make it convenient to order and pick up.

“Many of my customers have tried CSAs, and it just didn’t work for them,” Maifeld said. The community-supported agriculture model sells memberships, and customers typically get a box filled with whatever is harvested that week.

“It was just too much food. They hated throwing it away,” she said, walking through her garden filled with traditional cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs but dotted with uncommon varieties like dragon’s tongue beans, listada eggplants and ground cherries. Thelma Lou the cat followed her, chasing butterflies among the flowering plants beaded with the morning’s dew.

Twice a week, Maifeld updates the Glory Garden website — glorygarden.org — with whatever’s ripe and takes orders. The produce is delivered to two drop sites on Mondays and one on Thursdays, or customers can stop out to the garden on those evenings.

“It’s just a continuous cycle,” she said.

Maifeld estimates that she grows 30 to 40 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Her garden isn’t certified organic, “but everything I do is organic,” she said. “My customers trust me.”

She explained some of her practices, describing how she eliminates squash beetles by catching them with tape or burning them with a propane torch.

Maifeld turned the family garden into a business in the spring of 2014 after finishing her home-schooling studies. She knew she didn’t want to go to college but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

“I loved weeding and said if I could make a living doing that, I’d be happy.” She figured that being a gardener would be 90 percent gardening and 10 percent sales, and, as an introvert, that appealed to her. She said she has since discovered that the percentages are the opposite, but she is enjoying the challenge of finding customers and building operations.

Anna Maifeld holds the beginnings of two rag rug projects. The one on the left is a custom order; the one on the right is her signature “grab-bag” style.

While there’s plenty of planning and learning to do in the wintertime, she earns additional income by sewing clothes and doing mending and alterations. She also makes crocheted rag rugs with recycled fabric, selling them and taking custom orders through the Etsy shop Heartland Handmade SD.

For the first two years of Glory Garden, Maifeld sold her harvest to friends and family using email. She said she got serious about the business in the third season, moving to a Google Docs form for ordering. Over the past winter, she created a website with a full e-commerce platform.

“I’m learning as I go,” she said.

Maifeld does a lot of research online, found a mentor in Jerry Ward of Hackberry Hollow Farms who lives just a few miles away and joined The Bakery. She’s also been sharing notes with the owners of Caselli’s Market Garden, who do some of their sales online. She found a kindred spirit in Fruit of the Coop’s Stephanie Peterson, who provides the eggs sold on the website.

The 21-year-old gardener said one of the biggest challenges is growing her customer base.

“So many people in Sioux Falls would love this if they knew about it,” she said. “I still feel there are a lot (of potential customers) out there, but I just want to reach them.”

Her goal is to enlighten people about delicious food that they can even grow themselves.

“I definitely want to encourage people to start their own gardens,” she said, explaining that she would be happy to fill in the gaps.

“My passion is I want people to eat healthy and not because they need it but because it tastes good.”

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Glory Garden offers new road to veggies: Buy fresh picked, online

Glory Garden’s goal is simplifying the process of having fresh vegetables all summer.

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