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Wilson’s Orchard & Farm is expanding to a new location in Des Moines, with its opening set for April 1, 2024. The current orchard, located at 4823 Dingleberry Rd NE in Iowa City, has been a mainstay of the community since 1985. Since its inception as an apple orchard, it has expanded to become an entire experience – featuring pick-your-own seasonal fruit, flowers and vegetables, tractor rides, live music on the weekends, a market, bakery, restaurant and events center. The farm sells its produce in local grocery stores, and employs an estimated 40 year-round workers and 150 seasonal workers. Paul Rasch, co-owner of Wilson’s, along with his wife, Sarah Goering, said the idea for expansion began a few years ago. The farm found popularity in the Des Moines market with its beverages, but it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit that they ramped up their efforts. Large meat packing plants shuttered, creating a national meat shortage. Mr. Rasch said they saw the public’s interest in outdoor spaces and locally-sourced food substantially escalate. “We have an increasing amount of traffic out of Des Moines and our Iowa City location, so we knew there was an appetite for it,” said Mr. Rasch. “Obviously, Des Moines is the largest metro area in Iowa, and the opportunity to be part of a kind of exciting residential farm interaction came up.”