Wilson’s Orchard and Farm to open location in Des Moines area

The Iowa City business plans to open a new orchard near Cumming, Iowa, in 2023


Matthew Kennedy

Visitors can pick one of various types of apples, from the wide array of apple trees, at the Iowa City location of Wilson’s Apple Orchard, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

Grace Katzer, News Reporter

Wilson’s Orchard and Farm, a business that opened in Iowa City in 1985, is expanding to the Des Moines Area. The new location is expected to open in spring 2023.

Paul Rasch, the owner of Wilson’s Orchard and Farm, located at 4823 Dingleberry Road NE #1, said he initially got the idea to add a second location two years ago when he was approached by Middlebrook, an agrihood in Cumming, Iowa, which blends an agricultural enterprise with a residential area.

“It’s a residential development that features a tremendous amount of green space, walking trails, bike trails, but then also a farm, and it’s all connected to that farm,” he said.

Rasch said the farm will start development by planting a second orchard in Cumming along with a new restaurant and event center.

“It got us thinking, and expanding felt like a good way to take some of the lessons we’ve learned here to a different part of Iowa,” he said.

Rasch made the announcement in an Oct. 15 video posted to the Wilson’s Orchard and Farm website.

“We really wanted to do something meaningful, something that would leave the world a slightly better place than where we found it,” he said in the announcement.

Rasch said expansion began quietly in 2020 after he felt inspired by the overwhelming support the community showed the business.

“We have bought a farm [and] planted an orchard… opening for strawberry season in June of 2023,” he said.

The new farm consists of 115 acres, with 30 acres allocated to livestock while the rest is dedicated to flowers, fruit trees, vegetables, pumpkins, and natural prairies, according to the announcement. The new farm is 25 acres larger than the Iowa City location.

Rasch said the farm will be similar to the one in Iowa City and will operate an orchard, a restaurant, a cider house, and a market. Unlike the Iowa City location, the new farm will have one primary facility that includes the restaurant, market, and cider house.

“All of our attention is basically focused on what consumers seem to be more and more wanting, which is connections to the outdoors and connections to the food and where it was grown,” he said. “It’s really becoming very clear that, especially in the younger generations, people are interested in those kinds of experiences.”

Claire Conlon, a University of Iowa third-year student, is a regular customer at the orchard.

“I was just here last weekend with my family, and I came back to have the same kind of experience with my friends,” she said.

Conlon said she enjoys connecting with all kinds of people in the area.

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“Thinking that other people further away can experience the orchard, too, is really nice,” she said. “I have always enjoyed going to the orchard so close to home, and I think everyone should have that kind of environment nearby.”

Kaitlynn Hamers, a UI third-year student, said the farm is a beloved location for family fun and apple picking.

“I remember coming here a lot growing up with my family, it always brings back good memories whenever I visit again,” she said. “I go to the orchard probably once or twice every year because it’s just a fun place to hang out and enjoy the fall weather.”

Hamers said one of her favorite parts of the orchard is the great food offered throughout the farm.

“I am happy to hear that they are expanding because everyone loves the orchard, and more people should get to experience it,” she said. “It’s always busy when I visit, so I’m sure people will love it there, too.”