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From science to sales

Family runs the Old Farmhouse Feed & Garden Center


by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Wendy Dauenhauer shows off some shade plants offered at the Old Farmhouse Feed & Garden Center. She said the business plans to add greenhouses and a produce stand to the property in the future.When two science teachers decide to open shop, you can be sure their offerings will be unique.

And that’s just what the Old Farmhouse Feed & Garden Center is — unique.

Walking through the Old Farmhouse, you’ll pass seed, pet food, the “Green Solution Corner,” the garden library, local arts and crafts and soil amendments.

You’ll also encounter Dozen, the popular kitten with six toes on each of her front paws; Indigo, the skink, who used to run through Wendy Dauenhauer’s middle school science class; and Pete, the talking, crying, singing and scolding Amazon yellow front parrot that Dauenhauer has had for 45 years.

Out back, there’s a warehouse of animal feed and five or six varieties of hay. Around the side of the farmhouse there are shade plants, trees, shrubs, perennials, pond plants and grasses from Phyllis Brinkley’s Old Farmhouse Nursery. Though many of these will be taken home for the winter until greenhouses are added to the property.

Dauenhauer has lived in the Estacada area for most of her life.

Brinkley, who is Dauenhauer’s mother, lives in a house from 1906 that once belonged to the historic Heiple family for whom Heiple Road is named.

Brinkley has run a wholesale nursery for the last 30 years.

Dauenhauer’s father bought Pete the parrot for the family while he was in the military service. Dauenhauer was 3-years-old at the time.

Growing up, it often fell to Dauenhauer to take care of Pete.

The parrot bonded with her; he now laughs her laugh and imitates the way she answers the phone.

Dauenhauer graduated from Estacada High School in 1982.

She went on to pursue a career as a middle school science teacher. Pete the parrot came with her to her classrooms.

Dauenhauer taught middle school science for 25 years.

Her husband, Todd Dauenhauer teaches middle school science in Gladstone.

Eventually Wendy decided it was time to try something different and to be closer to family.

With her mother’s and sister’s expertise in plants, the idea of a family-run combination feed store and nursery began to take shape.

The family rented a feed store for a while, but when the former Eagle Creek Feed Store became available the family jumped at the chance to buy it.

They bought the building in February, and opened shop in April of this year.

Dauenhauer had been nervous that it would be hard to leave teaching, but she has found that she uses a lot of the same skills running the Old Farmhouse.

A friend told her she simply has an “older audience” now.

“Being a teacher, I can’t help it. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll usually look it up,” Dauenhauer said gesturing toward a large bookcase in the shop.

For example, a customer may bring in a “wonky tomato” from their property and ask Dauenhauer to diagnose the cause.

The cause, more often than not, is unbalanced soil. Not enough calcium, perhaps.

The Old Farmhouse has a variety of soil amendments to help tailor the soil to the customer’s specific needs such as tomato growing or show poultry raising.

The amendments are sold by the pound, which, as Dauenhauer points out, is much cheaper than buying wholesale.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Indigo the skink keeps an eye on the shop. Indigo used to run through Daunhauer's middle school science class. Pete, the talking parrot also enjoys watching over the store. People have been known to come to the Old Farmhouse simply to visit with their favorite kitten.Many customers are from the Estacada, Eagle Creek and Sandy area, but Portland environmentalists also are fond of the store.

Dauenhauer has a “Green Solution Corner” with environmentally and pet-friendly fertilizers and soil amendments.

Dauenhauer has printed recipe cards for many of the uses for offerings in the “Green Solution Corner.”

For example, one can find bulk baking soda along with cards detailing how baking soda may be utilized for deodorant, tooth paste, cleaning and other uses.

This time of year, the “Green Solution Corner” also boasts a variety of seasonal garlic.

Dauenhauer also offers space in her store for local products to be sold.

“I try as much as I can to give people a chance to sell things locally here,” Dauenhauer said.

At the moment, there is locally raised or made soap, soy candles, body butter, honey, chicken and duck eggs, shopping bags sewn from recycled material and more for sale at the Old Farmhouse.

The Old Farmhouse’s staff is unusually knowledgeable about their products.

Daunhauer’s mother and sister are able to answer most customers’ plant questions, while the Dauenhauers are great with science questions. The Dauenhauers also are avid gardeners who have long raised their own meat and eggs.

“We grow 80 percent of the plants that we sell. We know what it’s going to look like in the ground, we know what light it’s going to need, we know what soil it’s going to need because we’ve grown it,” Dauenhauer said.

Dauenhauer writes a blog about local products that are in season for the Old Farmhouse’s website at www.oldfarmhousefeedandgarden.com.

In addition, the Old Farmhouse has horse and pet expert on staff to help out with animal care questions.

“We try to get everybody covered,” Dauenhauer said.

The Old Farmhouse Feed & Garden Center is located across from Philip Foster Farm at 30076 Southeast Highway 211.

It’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday through March.

For more information call the Old Farmhouse Feed & Garden Center at 503-630-2599.




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