Jenn O’Neal: PepperHarrow Farm

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Des Moines Mom recognizes that moms wear a lot of hats. You are a mom, wife, friend, diaper changer, nose wiper, meal planner, lost toy finder, the list goes on and on!

This summer we are thrilled to feature some local moms who are thinking outside the box and making a difference in our community through the businesses they own, organizations they are involved with, and work they do. Check out the rest of the series and read profiles from previous years here

photos by Leah Ried

Jenn O’Neal is the owner and operator of the boutique flower farm, PepperHarrow. You can find their blooms at the Des Moines Farmers Market or at one of their events at their farm in Winterset. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Jenn is a Central Iowa native and grew up in Winterset. My husband and I met when I was going to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He fell in love with Iowa one magical fall, when I brought him back for the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival. We have three beautiful children, Griffin, Quinlan, and Lochlann. As a family, we love spending time totally unplugged, usually during ‘cabin life’ on a lake, playing as many rounds of checkers as we can. Priceless family time!

What do you consider the biggest challenge of motherhood to be? Biggest joy?

The biggest challenge of motherhood is knowing if you’re doing it right or not. I’ve recognized that each of my kids has a different personality and it requires me to parent them each a little differently. It’s a lot of work, as all moms know, but I try to talk through and get parenting advice with my mom and best friends whenever possible. I recognize it’s not a perfect formula and we’ll all feeling our way through parenting. We do the best we can and hope our kids will find their way in the world and be decent people and functioning adults.

My biggest joy in motherhood is getting to watch my kids grow and flourish. I’m amazed every day by the different strengths they show, everything from physical (sports), financial aptitude, discipline, to artistic creativity. I’m fascinated by all of it and it makes my heart swell with pride.

How did you start PepperHarrow Farm? What was your inspiration?

We started PepperHarrow with the intention of self-sustaining ourselves on our land. Adam was interested in sustainable agriculture practices and permaculture and I told him that if he was going to grow vegetables, fruit, etc, that I was going to grow a small patch of flowers to bring to the farmers market. That’s how it started, a small 10X20 patch of flowers, which were a success at each farmers market. From there, we began to focus more attention on growing gorgeous local flowers. We will grow our own food, just on a smaller scale and just for ourselves. It’s wonderful!

What’s the best part about being your own boss?

Oh boy! The best part of being my own boss is that at the end of the day, I know everything rests on my shoulders on a daily basis and what I put in, I’ll get back out. That might seem daunting to think about, but I know I can set my own schedule, and achieve my own personal goals for myself on a daily basis. Because of this, I’m giving 100% each and every day. It feels so rewarding to see this translate into a beautiful farm that people get to enjoy. It’s one of my favorite things to hear how magical our farm is. I like to believe it’s because of all the love, hard work, and dedication I put in each day!

What’s the hardest part about running your own business?

Definitely not being able to leave for the day. It’s certainly not a typical 9-5 job, where you can check out and leave. Our business is right at our home and it’s sometimes hard to step away and not work too much. I’m sure this is a common theme that many had a chance to experience working at home last year.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

Eeesh. I try never to look back, so I’m not sure there’s a lot I wish I had told myself when I first started.

What do you love about raising a family in Des Moines? 

I love the access to wonderful playgrounds, skate parks, swimming pools, restaurants, and art. We spend a lot of time exploring and finding new places in the city we’ve never seen or experienced. So fun! We have an amazing city and I wouldn’t want to raise my kids anywhere else!

Quick Takes:

Favorite local restaurant: The kids are in love with Django, but Adam and I love date nights at Table 128

Best place to take kids: So many great places, but it depends on your kids and what you’re looking to do. We love: Ashby Park, because it has a splash area and playground equipment, The Science Center, Des Moines Art Center, Lauridsen Skate Park, and PappaJohn Sculpture Park.

Favorite summer activity: Our favorite summer activity is heading ‘up North’ for cabin time to unplug, BBQ, and swimming at our local swimming pool.

What’s the last show you watched, thing you listened to, or book you read? The last show we watched as a family is: Manifest on Netflix, the kids seems to be enjoying Olivia Rodrigo and Ava Max’s music. Books? Maybe in winter!

How/where do you relax? Relaxing for us is either by the ocean in a lawn chair or at a cabin on the lake.

If your life had a hashtag, what would it be? #workhardplayhard

Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.

Previous articleAmy Hilmes, Happy DSM
Andrea is a Jesus-following, coffee-drinking, book-loving single mom to 3 amazing kids. She is a work at home mom who spends her days reading books about trucks and trains and building forts out of couch cushions with 4-year-old Emerson and 2-year-old Foster while shielding baby sister Harlow from flying toys. You can find her in coffee shops around Des Moines drinking lattes and typing away on her laptop.

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