When Brianna Voelker and Josh Harlan, the now-wedded masterminds behind Waterloo’s Spare Thyme Farms, first met in 2014 at Southeast Missouri State University, they knew they wanted to turn their agribusiness studies into a new adventure.
“We never knew for sure what we were going to do, but we knew it would be something with agriculture,” Voelker said.
Years later, after the couple moved back from a stay in Maine, it started to become more clear. Voelker took a job at a local greenhouse, then realized she wanted to garden and sell on her own.
That’s when Spare Thyme Farms was born.
On an acre at her parents’ Waterloo farm, Voelker and Harlan grow everything from spring vegetables like radish, turnips, beets and fresh herbs to zucchini, peppers, eggplants, green beans and more in the summer.
This diversity has made Spare Thyme a fixture at the Monroe County Farmers Markets since the couple started last year, and now at the Breese and New Baden farmers markets as well.
“I like to grow everything I like to eat, which is everything,” Voelker said.
With her expertise in horticulture, also courtesy of her SEMO education, Voelker also raises houseplants, perhaps the most popular being succulents, which she retails at farmers markets among the produce.
The couple hopes to keep expanding their offerings, Voelker said. She is currently eying strawberries, blueberries and asparagus.
“Every year we’re growing a little bit more,” Voelker said.
And from the beginning to the end, everything at Spare Thyme is intentional. Voelker said while Spare Thyme is not certified organic, they prioritize regenerative farming, practices that focus on conserving and rehabilitating the environment.
She explained this largely has to do with soil health. Spare Thyme does not spray its produce with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, uses cover crops and more.
The best part though, Voelker said, is seeing how the Monroe County area appreciates the end results.
“It’s been a very good outlet, and we love to share it with the community,” Voelker said.
To learn more about Spare Thyme, visit their Facebook page or see them at the Monroe County Farmers Market on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Columbia Schnucks or Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Monroe County Annex, 901 Illinois Avenue, Waterloo.