Mary and Jack Domann of Domann's Plants in Beaver Dam began their journey to the Dane County Farmers' Market by not selling plants at all. In the early 1980s, they were selling arts and crafts at regional flea markets, but this did not provide year-round business, and neither was very happy with the products they were offering.
In order to do something they found more enjoyable and have items available to sell throughout the year, the Domanns began to grow plants. In the beginning, they continued to sell their crafts and plants together at flea markets, but slowly they transitioned to selling only plants. Eventually, they left the flea markets in order to sell strictly at farmers' markets.
It was not uncommon for the Domanns to sell their plants at four markets a week, sometimes even more. Mary remembers sleeping in her car overnight before the Saturday market because she needed to get a spot at the market. At the time, there were no reserved spots for farmers, and spaces were available first-come, first-served.
Luckily, this policy has changed, and now reserved spaces are available to farmers based on seniority. Domann's Plants has been at the Dane County Farmers' Market for over 20 years, and they have had their reserved space for about 15 years. It's on South Pinckney Street, across from U.S. Bank. The Domanns have hardly slowed down over the years, and they continue to sell at the Dane County Farmers' Market, as well as the Wednesday market on Martin Luther King Blvd., the Jefferson Speedway Market on Sundays, and the Watertown Farmers' Market on Tuesdays.
They can finally take a break come late June, as they do not sell produce, only plants. Until then, they'll are busy selling a wide selection of potted vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Tomatoes are their most popular item, and with about half of their sales coming from these plants, it is no wonder that customers have been known to identify them as the "Tomato People."
The Daily Page: What is your secret to growing great tomato plants?
Mary Domann: We grow many of our tomato plants in milk jugs, which my husband has drilled holes into. Besides the fact that we are using recycled materials, the milk jugs make the plants easier to carry and less likely to be damaged during transport.
When you decided to start selling plants, how did you go about it?
We started small and grew a room at a time, a year at a time. We now have over 4,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space.
With such a busy schedule, do you have help growing your plants?
My husband and I do all of the planting, watering, and care of the plants ourselves. We also get help from our daughters, especially when selling plants on Saturdays.