WINTERSET – You could say Kelli and Clinton Eshelman’s adventures started because a friend of Kelli’s wanted to run a 5K.
Even though the two both attended school at Nodaway Valley, they didn’t know each other until years after they had both graduated, and were both living in the Des Moines area.
One day, a friend of Kelli’s told her about wanting to run long distance, and she said she wasn’t familar with the sports.
“Only person on Facebook (who I knew and who) knew about running was Clinton,” Kelli said.
She messaged him, and he thought she was looking for a significant other at the time, but, no, she was really just looking for a teacher.
“I don’t know how run (that distance),” she said.
The two started running at a local gym, and yes, she ran the 5K, and she ran another marathon, and was ready for the next adventure.
Eventually, that adventure became marrying Clinton, moving to a farm near Winterset, and opening a flower and vegetable Community Support Agriculture (CSA) Operation. It’s name is Cedar Shake Farm.
Clinton grew up near Bridgewater, and his family raised cattle, soybeans, corn and hay. His mother also had a herd of sheep, and “football field sized garden.” He helped his dad, doing the typical farm things, whether it was grinding feed, hauling corn or stacking bales, and he was also likely to be helping his mom in the garden because “there was always something to do” with it.
He participated in 4-H, showing sheep and horses, and after high school, enlisted in the military, going to basic training, before heading to Iowa State University to get a business degree. That October, his unit was deployed to Iraq, where he spent most of his time moving supplies from Jordan to Iraq.
“We were never in any fire fights,” he explained, but said, he and other members of his unit did encounter road side bombs. Only a couple of members were injured during his time there.
When he came back to the states, he enrolled in DMACC, getting an associates degree in business and then later attended Grandview, getting a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration. In Aug. 2008, he started working at American Equality. In 2010-11, he was deployed again to Afghanstein.
Kelli grew up in northern Iowa, also on a farm, and her dad’s parent’s had a cattle operation near Monore. Her grandmother is also a retired florist.
“We always had a lot of flowers,” Kelli said. “My parents did a lot of landscaping, so we always had nice big flower beds and a decent garden for vegetables and fruit trees.”
She was also in 4-H through eighth grade, doing a lot of photography and wood working projects. But one year she did have a unique project.
“I did show bottle calves one year because a friend of the family had calves,” she said. “My foot was in a cast because I fracture my foot, so I had a walking boot (to wear). And the calf stepped on the boot in the arena and stepped right out of it.”
Kelli was also likely to be found helping in the garden when she was growing.
“We had a descent size garden,” she said. “We were out there pretty much every day during the summer doing something with that.”
After high school, she attended SWCC getting an associate degree with emphasis in psychology, and then attended Upper Iowa University getting a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She also got a criminal justice degree, but then decided to take another path. She worked as a waitress and bartender for several years, until she decided to attend Grandview getting a Bachelor’s degree in health promotion. From there, she worked at Wellmark, but then decided she would enjoy working in the education field.
“I decided I really liked the school environment,” she said, so she went through a program to become a substitute teacher. She worked at Nodaway Valley, where her mom was working as the special education teacher, and Clinton’s mom was working on the custodial staff.
She is currently not working as subtitute teacher, as she was diagnosed with lymphona, and is in the process of getting chemo treatment, which she will be doing through the summer.
The two became a couple in 2013, and Clint asked Kelli to marry him when they were skiing in Colordao on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. They married on May 23, 2015.
Living in the Des Moines, the couple had a garden, but Clinton always wanted a bigger one, and in 2016, they got the opportunity to have one when they moved to the Winterset area. They decided to sign up to be vendor at the Winterset Farmer’s Market after learning about it on Facebook, in part because their garden so productive, that they were giving away produce to friends, family and co-workers.
At one point when Clinton had co-workers “ordering” vegetables, the two decided to create a CSA operation, in which people pay for boxes of home grown vegetables. They named it Cedar Shake Farm, because the farm includes a few Cedar Trees, and their house had Cedar Shake Siding on it. Besides vegetables, they also offer cut flowers. They are also considering added a greenhouse to the operation, and in talks with Fareway in Winterest to possibly provide vegetables and cut flowers to the business to be sold as well. Besides Winterset, they are also vendors at the Van Meter Farmer’s Market.
Clinton said one of the best parts of working in the industry is getting to meet customers face to face, and also getting to make new friends after moving to the Winterset area. Kelli likes the support they receive from the community, and also the interaction with customers, among other people. And she also likes the ability to be creative when it come to flower arranging.
More information on the couple and their operation can be found online-either at their web site, https://cedarshakefarm.com/, or their Facebook Page-just search for Cedar Shake Farm.