Producer Feature: Cedar Creek Gardens

South Dakota Specialty Producers Association was pleased to announce the addition of Peggy Martin to our Board of Directors in 2018. She has brought a great deal of expertise to the table in the areas of production and technology applications through her business, Cedar Creek Gardens, south of Midland.

She and her business partner, Bud Manke, grow a combination of vegetables, pumpkins and melons on several acres and in five high tunnels. They sell at four farmers markets per week during the summer season and have a farm stand in Winner, SD that is open six days per week mid-July to Labor Day. At the Farmer’s Markets, they set up a trailer that has a cooler area in the front so the produce stays fresh. Farmers Markets provide a great revenue source for them. They also have a sale route that includes stores, restaurants, and hospitals and they offer Market boxes. The geographical range they cover with those boxes is most of eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota.

Peggy and Bud grew up together, and shared an interest in gardening. When the opportunity came up to get a high tunnel, they did it with the idea to sell the extra produce to make a little extra cash. Then another opportunity came about to get another high tunnel so they figured if they were babysitting one, they might as well have two. More opportunities for tunnels came and now they have five along with several tilled acres in production. Peggy exclaimed, “The Good Lord just keeps blessing us with opportunities and we are just along for the ride.”

When asked how they can possibly make their production work out in the middle of South Dakota, Peggy responded, “The struggle is real. With populations of the closest towns (30 miles away), finding enough customers to be sustainable is a challenge, so you get inventive.” Peggy and Bud utilize many innovative practices and a variety of technology applications.

Bud and Peggy utilize technology to make their business successful. In fact they claim to run the garden from their smart phones. All garden documents are either kept Google Docs or DropBox, so they can be accessed from the field. Excel spreadsheets are used to plan garden layouts, keep track of seed orders, and variety types. Google calendar is used to keep track of when they do what. They use remote monitor systems with apps on their phones for their coolers, and greenhouse temps. Mailchimp (a mobile app) is used to send reminder notifications to customers. Some prefer text alerts so they use slicktext.com (a web based mobile interface). They use Google Search By Image so they can upload pictures of diseases and bugs to help with identification. They utilize Weather Bug daily, sometimes several times a day to keep up with the weather. Mobile banking is used to deposit checks from wholesale customers since it is 53 miles one way to deposit them.

Wow! Bud and Peggy are making a successful local foods production model work in Midland, South Dakota. We are grateful to have them as part of the SDSPA family and look forward to continue learning from them.