Caleb M. S. — Staff Writer
January 2020 marks a decade of operation for the Fruited Plain café, owned by Laremy and Rebecca De Vries. The two have been proud to call Sioux Center home for well over the ten years their shop has been operating. Both are graduates of Dordt University—and this semester Laremy stepped into a professor position at Dordt University while Dr. Mark Tazelaar takes a sabbatical leave. De Vries, besides owning and operating the Fruited Plain, possesses a Master of Philosophy Studies from the Free University of Amsterdam, the institution famously founded by Abraham Kuyper.
“There have been two constants in my life since Dordt:” said De Vries, “academics and coffee.”
Since graduation, De Vries managed the on-campus coffee shop, the Humble Bean, served in a philosophy adjunct position for a year, managed a coffee shop in Maryland, and finally opened the Fruited Plain.
“It seemed the thing to do,” De Vries said. “Again, coffee is one of the two things I know best.”
Sioux Center, with a population of 7,579, is not at the front of one’s mind when thinking of towns with a culturally diverse underbelly. However, the Fruited Plain is a crux for discussion, music, and quality across all disciplines, but most notably, coffee.
When asked what the Fruited Plain adds to the cultural spectrum of Sioux Center, De Vries said, “We were the first to really start selling beer and wine, encouraging a sort of night life, and really fostering a community.” De Vries also noted the importance of commitment to the quality that the Plain holds to. “Part of serving God is found in serving people, but that certainly is not the end all be all,” he said.
De Vries’ goal of fostering community here in rural northwest Iowa is in full bloom, as is evidenced by the 10th birthday party at the venue on this past Saturday night. Two local bands, the Ruralists and NCDC champions Technical Difficulties, played the stage in the BackBack, a converted garage attached to the café. Traveling folk group Good Morning Bedlam returned to the BackBack for the fourth time in two years and played to a packed house of Dordt students, professors, children, and seniors.
“We wouldn’t miss playing at the Plain for the world,” Sophia Mae of Good Morning Bedlam said. “We play some venues, and people just stare blankly then come up after the fact and fawn saying, ‘Oh great show we loved it,’ but are dead for the entire event. Not here in Sioux Center. You guys get into it, and we love you for it.”
The Fruited Plain has a capacity for attracting the stranger, outcast, misfits, and fringe of every social circle. “Any effing rando that shows up in Sioux Center ends up at the Plain,” De Vries said. “A guy came by on a bike ride across America one time and asked if he could wash our windows for a bowl of soup.”
This too plays into the cultural mission of the Fruited Plain. De Vries, as a philosopher and Kuyperian, is first to note the importance of sphere sovereignty in every aspect of life. In an article for the Dordt-associated publication In All Things, he writes, “We will interact differently with one human being who is our son and another human who is a customer… while we can theoretically separate out these modes of existence, our lives are a singular whole. When I interact with a customer, I do not stop being a father; I must fill these roles simultaneously. And so each of my choices must strike the balance, understanding the multi-faceted nature of the whole of life.”
In this uniquely Reformed way, the Fruited Plain and Laremy De Vries fill the cultural mandate and the great commission, providing a community, quality, and coffee to the masses of Dordt University and greater Sioux County.