Wabi Sabi Farm


Staff Members
Ben Saunders (Owner/Operator)

I developed a passion for local foods early in life while picking apples and strawberries (since they tasted so good!) with my folks as a child on farms surrounding Iowa City, Iowa and in the kitchen creating tasty deserts using locally grown strawberries with my grandma.  My parents and grandparents helped to establish a reverance for nature (Enviromental Ethic) in me while camping, fishing, and wandering around with me in the woods, praires and waterways of Iowa and Northern Minnesota during my "youth". 

In my ealry 20's I developed a love for educating our children, the environment, plants and gardening. Because of this love, I wanted to find a way to establish my environmental ethic with growing tasty food and educating the young and "young at heart". I traveled around the country making contacts and learning how people are growing FOOD for other members of their LOCAL community using methods I felt fit with my environmental ethic. 

After returning to Iowa and spending some time in elementary education, in 2004 I graduated from Iowa State University earning a BS in Horticulture with a fruit and vegetable production emphasis.  That summer I began working with Turtle Farm (Angela Tedesco) and learning her methods of producing food for a CSA program.  In 2010 I became the Farm Manager of Turtle Farm.  In 2012, Angela Tedesco announced her retirement from farming and that she was renting the farm to me to begin my own farming adventure, Wabi Sabi Farm.

Claire McConahay (2014 Farm Crew)

It is so good to be back in Iowa!! I’m Claire McConahay, and even though I sporadically leave this wonderful state, I always find myself back here. My last journey home got me to finish my BS at Iowa State University in Animal Ecology specializing in Wildlife. During that time I also found myself focusing on prairie and oak savanna restoration with the hope of bringing some of Iowa’s natural beauty back. This time, my journey home has given me the wonderful joy of working at Wabi Sabi. I am very interested in smaller scale farms that are still capable of carrying a strong land ethic. This is the beginning of an adventure that only time will figure out. While my Grandparents were still living, they paid off land in SW Iowa, and it would be a great honor to use this experience to make them proud and begin a small farm in their name. Here’s to an exciting new season. Happy eating!!

Mallory Hohmann (2014 Farm Crew)

Hello, My name is Mallory and I am new to the farm this year. I’ve recently left two part time soul sucking jobs to join the Wabi Sabi crew in hopes of rejuvenating myself. So far so great! As a self-taught gardener, I am thrilled to be learning and working out here. I leave everyday full of wonderful knowledge. Growing up in Dubuque Iowa, I spent most of my time where I am happiest, outside. In 2008 I received my degree in Cosmetology at Capri College. I practiced in the area for a couple of years and then met my beautiful partner, Jen. She brought me to the city of Des Moines in 2010 where we decided to rent a cute little house where we live very happily together. We recently adopted a giant puppy (Nilly). She’s been a super awesome dog, with the exception of eating the compost out of the garden. Over the years I’ve been conscious of what goes into my body due to some intolerances/ sensitivities. I’ve battled headaches ever since I can remember so I developed a diet that has eliminated them. Fortunately I’ve always loved vegetables; I was one of those orange babies from eating too many carrots. It’s been a pleasure eating healthy and feeling great. Learning the importance of local certified organic foods has been life changing. I can no longer go in to a market and see the produce the same. I’m hoping my experience out here will pave a road to my future. With all of our hard work, love, and a ridiculous amount of laughs, I feel our fun farm crew will provide the best vegetables you’ve ever eaten. Thank you to my fellow crew members, Trisha (the hardest working one) Ben, and all of the CSA members for making it all happen.

Emily Bowser (2014 Farm Crew)

My name is Emily Bowser. I grew up in Eldora, Iowa, and after graduating from high school, I attended Central College in Pella. I majored in mathematics and music (piano and organ) and minored in economics. As a member of the Central College tennis team, I met the man of my dreams, Daniel, and married him after graduating from college in December 2011. I did basic accounting work before Daniel and I quit our jobs in April 2013, seeking more life-giving work. We had done some reading about small-scale organic farming and were very interested in learning more and becoming involved in the movement towards local food and sustainability. Using wwoof.com we found two small organic farms to work at in exchange for room and board—Round River Farm in northern Minnesota and Fialky Farm in northwest Montana. Round River Farm is an off-the-grid farm (powered completely by wind and solar energy) and has a 50 member CSA. Fialky Farm sells produce and flowers at farmers markets, wholesale to grocery stores and to individuals for weddings. In August, Daniel and I moved to Comer, Georgia, and lived at Jubilee Partners—a Christian community that welcomes refugees, offering English classes and extensive gardening opportunities. We moved back to Des Moines this year, and I now work as a Special Education Associate at Webster Elementary School during the school year. Daniel works for Lutheran Services in Iowa on the Global Greens team and assists refugees in finding community garden plots in the Des Moines area. I am a vegetarian and can’t get enough of everything growing at Wabi Sabi. I dream of having a few acres of land for fruits and vegetables and of rising early each morning to milk a family cow.