Paula Reeves jams and jellies

Paula Reeves and her daughter Jessica Lincoln, along with Jessica’s children Grayson and Abigail, prepare to sell jams and jellies at the Glenwood Farmers Market.

SILVER CITY, Iowa — Paula Reeves had canned jams and jellies for years, giving most of the jars away to family and friends. And once her daughter was old enough to help, it became a mother-daughter operation.

Jump ahead a few years, and summers now find Paula and her daughter, Jessica Lincoln, selling jams, jellies, salsa and other items at area farmers markets around southwest Iowa.

“Jessica had the idea a few years ago that we should start selling more of what we make,” Paula says. “As time went by, we planted more fruit trees and bushes and the gardens got bigger. We started with our local farmers market in Silver City, then just grew from there.”

Paula and Jessica get together on weekends and evenings to can, now with help from Jessica’s children — Abigail and Grayson.

“Grayson just loves picking berries for us,” Paula says. “He gets real quiet, and when you call for him, you can see by his face that he’s doing more than picking berries. But it’s so much fun having the grandchildren help.”

Paula learned how to can with the help of a neighbor nearly 25 years ago, and as time went on, she tried to put her own stamp on the contents of those jars.

“One of the things Jessica and I have done is to come up with different combinations,” she says. “Sometimes you wonder if it will work, but we have found that people do like them.”

Paula says probably 95% of everything they can is grown at their homes. No chemicals are used, she adds.

In addition to the jams and jellies, Paula and Jessica make salsa and also sell vegetables at farmers markets near their Mills County homes. Paula says they also freeze things like peaches for future use.

Jessica says she and her mom make 15 to 20 different flavors of jams and jellies. She says having her children there with them as they fill the jars makes it special.

“Grayson really enjoys peeling and coring apples,” she says. “Abigail likes to help sell everything. It’s really nice to have them helping us out.”

Paula says she is a firm believer in the quality of homemade food items.

“Everything is better when it’s homemade,” she says. “You just can’t beat it.”

Know a good cook? Call us at 800-475-6655 or email

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.