Linus: “There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.”
Rural Kelley residents, Kellie and Tim Winter have green thumbs. They both grew up playing in the dirt.
Kellie grew up in Floyd County and Tim is from south central Minnesota. They refer to themselves as farm kids.
“We both always loved to garden,” tells Kellie. “When we moved out here, west of Kelley, we were delighted to be able to have a garden. So we have a huge garden in our backyard.”
The garden behind the Winter home covers about an acre. The couple, along with their two children, Annie who is 8, and 10-year-old Jacob, enjoy planting, harvesting, eating and sharing everything that they grow.
“We have four goals with our gardening,” tells Kellie. “We first of all enjoy eating all the wonderful produce we grow, as well as preserving what we can. Then we share with family and friends, and we also donate produce, and finally, we decided that we would sell what is left.”
What is left is pretty amazing.
“We do this because we enjoy it,” tells Tim. “Our hobby has grown into something much larger than we dreamed of. But having too much food is not a bad thing.”
Kellie spends her working hours as a microbiologist at the USDA in Ames, and Tim is a landscaper with his own business called “Surroundings.” Tim has worked in the restaurant business as well and says he enjoys his time in the kitchen as the family cook and bottle washer.
Kellie has a love for preserving the garden’s harvest.
“I preserve broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans, beets and turnips, just to mention a few,” she said. “I also like to experiment with making jellies and jams. I call my jellies and jams, Kellie’s Kelley’s Jellies and Jams.”
Kellie also bakes (according to Tim) the best homemade breads around. She specializes in sour dough and homemade yeast breads.
And what better to put on those breads than homemade jellies and jams.
“We do all this to eat better and because we enjoy it,” commented Tim. “It’s just natural for us and allows us to play in the dirt.”
“It’s in our blood, and we just can’t seem to get it out of our blood,” said Kellie.
The Huxley Food Bank, the Slater Food Pantry and the Back Pack Buddies at the Ballard Schools have all benefited from the sharing part of the Winter’s philosophy.
When the idea of selling some of the excess produce surfaced, the couple decided to plant seasonal pumpkins as well. They now have for sale a variety of pumpkins for carving, blue moon pumpkins, decorative gourds of all sizes, shapes and colors, as well as squash.
Something new in the line of jams and jellies that Kellie has come up with is jams made from wine.
“I tried different combinations of wines and fruits together to come up with some pretty tasty jams and jellies,” she tells.
Putting a smile on faces proves to be the biggest reward of all.
“It’s so much fun to entertain and be able to use our own fresh vegetables at gatherings. It is something that we love to do,” she said. “It’s fun to put a different twist on our cooking and there is nothing quite as good as home-grown fresh vegetables and using the spices that we grow to season with.”
The couple both use family cookbooks and recipes that have been handed down through generations. Tim tells that his maternal grandmother was a really good cook and he enjoys using her recipes.
“My grandmother cooked and baked everything from scratch,” he tells. “Now that we don’t have to make everything from scratch, I have to alter some of the recipes. Many of her recipes were written in German, so that is a challenge as well.”
“My grandmother’s recipes were all in her head,” laughs Kellie. “So I have to figure out measurements all the time.”
If you would like to pick out some pumpkins to carve, and gourds for decoration or squash to cook with, stop by the overflow harvest at 2279 280th St., Kelley. They will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. And be sure to ask about Kellie’s jellies and jams.