Produce From the Prairie
Cedar Creek Gardens Feeds Families Healthy Food
At Cedar Creek Gardens LLC and its sister company Cedar Creek Market Boxes LLC , the daily routine begins with the job of watering and weather watching out on the rolling prairie. These round-the-clock activities, and many other tasks, keep owners Peggy Martin and Bud Manke working from dawn till dusk, seven days a week, especially during the summer growing season .
Growing Close to Home
Martin and Manke have known each other since child hood . They both gardened with their families, which they continue as adults.
“Originally, I started gardening to provide fresh produce for my family,” Martin says. “I wanted to know where my food came from and how it was grown.”
Then in 2013, the two officially incorporated their “locally grown, community focused” fresh produce farm located nine miles south ofl-90 from 1880 Town near Midland.
Manke grew up two miles north of Cedar Creek Gardens. He and Martin, originally from down the road in Belvidere, have weathered the challenges of working with South Dakota soils, as well as the whims of South Dakota winds, drought, hail and blizzards. Their determination has led to steady growth and 14 outdoor acres in irrigated production .
“We live in a 24/7 society now. and if you can be found online it makes it way easier for your customer to communicate with you when it is convenient for them.”
Peggy Martin, Cedar Creek Gardens
Martin says, “Once we saw there was an interest from the local communities we decided to expand, and since [Bud] bad ample space to grow a variety of crops and a great clean water supply, we just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Cedar Creek Gardens operate year-round with the aid of eight greenhouses that maintain temperature-friendly environments, and a cold storage unit for preserving harvested produce. Eggs from 600 free-range chickens are sold all year at Rapid City locations. Cedar Creek Gardens also has a certified commercial kitchen for making salads, and canning items, such as jellies, pickles and salsa.
Cedar Creek Market Boxes sell out quickly and can only be purchased through their website. In-season produce straight from the garden is delivered weekly to customers along five different routes covering communities in west and south-central South Dakota. Each summer, Cedar Creek Gardens participates in a number of farmers markets, as well as farm stands in 16 towns from Pierre to Rapid City. Their growing plan is based upon the requests of customers and clientele. From A to Z, that market-driven base asks for everything from arugula to zucchini.
There’s no doubt that the need for bard work, imaginative planning, plentiful water and cooperative weather are some of the foremost factors in successfully operating a fresh produce farm. But in addition, Cedar Creek Garden’s marketing and outreach plan relies heavily on a reliable broadband connection that supports customer interaction through their website and social media site.
“We live in a 24/7 society now and if you can be found online it makes it way easier for your customer to communicate with you when it is convenient for them,” Martin says.
The availability of multiple, advanced technology plat forms and apps help them stay organized and on-task. Using mobile devices they keep lists for orders and supplies , communicate with customers and wholesalers, and track water samples, cooler temperatures, and the washing and sterilizing of harvest equipment.
Both Manke and Martin work bard, have long workdays and rely on the cooperation of Mother Nature for best success. However, they agree that their best rewards lie in meeting and serving customers they regard as their circle of friends .
”It’s great to be feeding so many families.”
Bud Manke. Cedar Creek Gardens
Where to Find Their Produce
(in Golden West Service Area):
• Summer farm stands in Winner and Martin.
• Farmers markets in Philip, Murdo, Kadoka and Wall.
• Area grocery stores including Murdo Family Food in Murdo.
Other Fun Facts
• Built their own vegetable washer. See a video of it in action on their website and Face book .
• Can’t be found by GPS . Those who try will be lost.
• Markets their produce from Rapid City to Pierre.
• Once picked 3 tons of tomatoes in one day.
• Feeds their ugly vegetables to their bucket calves.
For more information , visit their website at cedarcreekgarden.com or find them on Facebook.