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Rose will open home to Art Festival May 17-18

By Carol Stender

cstender@agrinews.com

MONTROSE, Minn. — The serene farmyard and floral gardens of Catherine Rose’s rural Montrose farm will see around 800 visitors for Rose’s two-day Art Festival and Farmers Market May 17 and 18.

The event is connection time when consumers meet area farmers and artisans.

"I know people who will drive to from Delano to the Twin Cities’ Farmer’s Market to get their produce and I think, ‘It’s right here. You don’t need to drive that far,’" Rose said. "This festival is everything that I believe in. The growers offer locally grown food and the artisans display their soaps, quilts, rugs and more. It’s a good festival where people can arrange a CSA contract, contract with a grower for vegetables and hear good music."

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This is the third year for the market that draws around 50 local vendors. Rose sells her own organically grown annuals and perennials and farmers offer local meats, maple syrup, ice cream, cheese, candy, wine, breads and soups. Consumers can purchase strawberry plants, heirloom vegetable plants, soaps and lotions. Artisans offer quilts, pottery, paintings, stained glass, glass beads, jewelry, photography, dish towels, wool items and more.

The event is a family affair. A blue grass jam is planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Pop Wagner and friends will perform for the square dance on Sunday. Gunny sack and three-legged races start at 1 p.m. both days. A giant slingshot is aimed at scarecrows placed throughout one field and the children enjoy pictures with the farm’s pony.

Rose opens the event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Her farmsite is the perfect backdrop for the festival. She’s used her talents as a landscaper and gardener in several floral gardens in her yard.

She learned her craft growing up on the family’s Greenwald dairy farm. Her grandmother and mother were talented gardeners but Rose had to wait for her own garden before she was able to do any weeding herself.

"Mom enjoyed working in the garden so much, she would take over the hoe," Rose said.

Rose attended Central Lakes College in Brainerd majoring in horticulture and started her own business soon after graduation.

"My business started by someone asking me to plant the same type of flowers in their garden that I’d planted somewhere else," Rose said. "The business just grew. The industry really helped me buy this place."

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She moved to the farm she calls Nature’s Nest 18 years ago as a single mom with two children. She renovated buildings, adding greenhouses and gardens and used many of her own plants in the landscape designs for her clients. She moved into organic gardening when she became concerned about the residuals and weed killers in her rose garden. She found the chemicals were affecting the structure of the plant, Rose said.

At her business peak, Rose had 76 clients, 12 employees and four vehicles. She took on referrals from Bachman’s Gardens. The customers didn’t want to deal with flowers or designing their flowerbeds, Rose said.

"It was a very busy life, raising two children and working at the business," she said. "Then I needed back surgery. That was my knock on the door that I needed to slow down and I decided to cut back."

She hired five women as sub-contractors in her business and, in their third year working with Rose, the women were able to take part of her clientele. It was a good way to transition down, Rose said. She retained a dozen clients and started a bed and breakfast with her husband, Don Davies. The two have been married for almost eight years and enjoy welcoming people to their home and gardens.

The farm is located on the Crow River. Her three sheep provide the fiber for many of Rose’s art projects. Chickens are able to roam around the yard during the day, pecking at the grass and providing the family with eggs. The eggs are often featured in the bed and breakfast’s morning meal.

Their B and B features a suite within their home complete with fireplace, TV, DVD, video, stereo system, refrigerator, microwave, private bathroom and private screened porch. The other is a log cabin located about a quarter mile from the house. The cabin is rustic and homey with a screened porch, composting toilet, sun shower, small loft, wood stove and skylights.

"I think people are often surprised at the quiet," Rose said.

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