If you’re in the local area looking for fresh produce, canned goods, jams, jellies, condiments or baked goods you don’t have to travel too far to satisfy your cravings.
Davison Produce and Cookery, located in Moland, just a little over 10 minutes southwest of Kenyon, has provided a complete line of produce and canned goods to residents from not only Kenyon, but also those in a 30-mile radius including Owatonna, Medford, Cannon Falls, Faribault and Apple Valley throughout the summer.
Owners Phil and Laura are registered Cottage Food producers who offer organically grown produce, such as heirloom tomatoes, rare and unusual peppers like ghost, Carolina reaper and fatali, as well as gourmet hard neck garlic and related products like scapes, powders and jelly. They also provide baked goods, caramels and gift packages to order for special occasions such as Christmas, the Super Bowl or weddings.
Typically, the Davisons spend their summer weekends at the Owatonna Farmers Market to sell their produce. Since this year’s market posed several unfriendly challenges with traveling to Owatonna in what would’ve been their eighth year selling, they decided to set their stand up right outside of their home.
“This has worked out good, it really has, we may even possibly do it next year,” said Phil. “We’ve had great support from the good people of Kenyon.”
On top of the challenges created from the pandemic, the Davisons faced an even bigger challenge Aug. 10 when golf ball-sized hail chopped up half of their garden, ruining produce such as cabbages and other products, making them feel lucky to have anything left.
“Our garden was looking beautiful,” said Phil of the days leading up to the hail damage. “Just the day before, I thought how well everything had grown, but the hail pounding pretty much took wind out of our sails. We just have to keep on keeping on with a positive attitude. That’s one thing about gardening, it makes you believe in tomorrow.”
Several years ago, they produced food solely for local coops and traveled to various areas to sell at places such as Rose Fest, before deciding to settle at the Owatonna Farmers Market.
Phil says he and his wife enjoy their business and consider themselves “pretty good” at what they do, although he admits he may be a little biased.
“My wife makes jams, jellies and caramels. I bake breads, rolls, biscuits and we have our own cookie recipe for cranberry pecan date delight,” said Phil. “Many people place an order around Christmas time or for the Super Bowl to have snacks for that. We offer caramels, hard Christmas candies, cashew brittle and we’ve even made candies for handouts at a wedding.”
Gardening has been something that Phil has been involved in since he was a child. Ever since he’s lived in Minnesota — about 21 years — he’s practiced organic, sustainable farming. Phil explains that gardening started out as a hobby, then all of a sudden 1/4 of an acre is planted “just like that.”
Laura confesses she gets carried away with planting seeds, because she can’t throw them out, so she has to plant them, which explains the approximate 213 pepper plants in the garden this year.
Phil says they garden 1/4 of an acre, which is plenty for them as they try to grow everything to put the “whole spectrum” on the table for both consumers and themselves.
“It’d be easier to say what we don’t grow,” said Phil with a laugh. “We try to mix it up so we don’t grow the same thing every year.”
As the weather cools, Phil says produce will taper back a bit, but he hopes the season stretches out a bit further. With the industry heavily dependent on weather, especially given Minnesota’s questionable weather habits, Phil says whenever Mother Nature closes the curtain on them, they will begin processing and cleaning up the garden. One perk of setting up in their yard, Phil says, is that it’s better to be freezing in their backyard than in away from home. He admits with a laugh, they will probably be out there way longer than they should be.
“We stay busy. We’re older, but it gives you something to do other than sitting around and thinking about growing old,” said Phil.