KENSETT | For Dana and Aaron Thomas, their decision to move from Mason City to an acreage in Kensett was all about food.
The couple started looking into food, as in where and how it’s produced, four years ago when they became pregnant with their first child, Ali.
“We wanted to know what we were eating,” Dana said.
So, the Thomases put their Mason City house on the market and began searching for an acreage that would accommodate a lifestyle to produce their own food.
They looked for a year, coming across acreages containing the land and outbuildings they desired. And when the sale of their Mason City home prompted their move, a property that wasn’t even on the market fell into their laps.
“We just got a tip from a Realtor, and I went and checked it out. Yes, this is the one,” Aaron said.
In April 2016, the couple moved to a 10-acre homestead on 410th Street in Kensett.
The two-story 2,000-square-foot farmhouse has four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.
The house — although 100 years old — has been updated thanks to a man who purchased it while it was in foreclosure and cleaned it up before selling it to the Thomases.
“That was one of the appeals of this place, too. We didn’t have to do all the work to the house,” Dana said. “A lot of times when you see acreages for sale, there’s a good chance that the old farmhouse needs some updating.”
The first floor features a nearly open-concept kitchen, dining room and living room with a bedroom, half bathroom and a laundry room. It also has the original wood floors. The second floor has the master suite, two bedrooms, a den and a bathroom.
While comfortable for the couple and their daughter, Ali, and 6-month-old son, Ian, Dana and Aaron agreed the house isn’t much of a dream, but it has some likable qualities.
“The house was kind of secondary,” Dana said. “I think the space, the land, was the biggest draw.”
The 10-acre property features a corn crib, a chicken coop, an old dairy barn, a shop and a two-stall garage, all of which Aaron has a dream for. For example, he said he’s envisioned turning the corn crib into in-laws’ apartments or a studio, or turning the old barn into a wedding venue. There is also a quarter-mile trail on the north side of the acreage.
Since moving to the acreage, the Thomases — Aaron, who owns a photography business called Photos by Aaron Thomas, and Dana, who is an interior designer at Bergland and Cram — started a large vegetable and fruit garden on the northwest corner of their property.
The family also has 60 laying chickens and plan to raise meat chickens to sell at Simply Nourished, formerly BE WELLness, in Clear Lake and the farmers market this year.
Aaron said they raised 10 pigs last year in hopes of cleaning three acres of overgrown silver maples, and while the pigs didn’t help much cleaning, they produced “delicious” bacon, sausage and ham. He hopes to raise and sell 20 pigs this year.
“Our tagline is pasture-raised, nutrient dense, happy food, so it’s all about the well-being of the animals and getting as much nutrients from the food that we can,” he said about how their organic practices.
Although it wasn’t in the Thomases’ original plan to start a farming business when they moved to the acreage, they are this year with the creation of The Thomas Farmstead.
The couple hopes to eat 80 percent from their property in 2018.
“Dream home? No. Dream lifestyle? Almost,” Aaron said.