Archive for farm sales

CHRISTMAS SALE!

IMG_4335This will be short and sweet :)  It’s just 9 days till Christmas and I’m selling all 7 Christmas scents of soap, lotion, and scrubs at 25% off!  Even if you don’t need more gifts, it’s a great time to stock up for yourself!

There is a limited supply available, and the sale applies only to these 7 scents and only to the items on-hand, ready-made.  (If you want a lotion or scrub in one of these 7 scents that I’ve run out of, I can mix it up for you, but it will be full-price.)  Soap can’t be made and ready that quickly – so when it’s gone, it’s gone!

 

 

 

Here’s the list of what’s available.

Christmas Tree – 8 soap, 3 scrubs, lotion: 2 – 8oz, 3 – 4 oz, 1 – 2 oz.

Frankincense & Myrrh – 5 soap,  lotion: 2 – 8 oz, 2 – 4 oz.

Gingerbread & Spice – 3 soap, 2 scrub, lotion: 1 – 8 oz, 3 – 4 oz.

Candy Cane – 5 soap, 1 scrub, lotion: 1 – 8 oz, 3 – 4 oz.

Bayberry – 8 soap, lotion: 1 – 8 oz, 3 – 4 oz, 2 – 2 oz.

Pumpkin Pie – 6 soap, 1 scrub, lotion:  2 – 8 oz, 2 – 4 oz, 2 – 2 oz.

C’Mere Deer – 7 soap, 1 scrub, lotion: 2 – 8 oz, 2 – 4 oz, 1 – 2 oz.

Email me at farmerinodell@gmail.com to order or send me a message on Facebook.

CYBER MONDAY SALE!!

Small Business Saturday is over.  Now it’s time for Cyber Monday!  Yes, it’s a little early, but it’s my sale – so I can do what I want! 

You get the same 15% discount the Small Business Saturday guests received, PLUS if you need your order shipped to you, you’ll pay only $5 for any size order!  To order, send me an email at:  farmerinodell@gmail.com or send a private message to me on our facebook page:  Farmer in Odell LLC, or my personal page if you are my “friend”.  There is a limited supply of all items, so first come – first served!  I can take payment by check, money order, Paypal, or Credit Card through Square (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express).

Soap, lotion (2-oz, 4-oz, and 8-oz sizes), and scrubs are all available in the following scents:  Hinoki Wood, and Cherry Blossom – both of which are still being sold to raise funds for our daugher’s trip to Tokyo in 2015; Tangerine Lime, Monkey Farts, Vanilla Musk (1 left), Eucalyptus Mint (2 left), Luffa – Almond scent (2 left) or Osmanthus scent (1 left), Plumberry Spice, Bitter Orange Orchid, Oatmeal/Milk/Honey, Pumpkin Pie, Unscented, Bayberry, Candy Cane, Gingerbread & Spice (4 left), Frankincense & Myrrh, C’Mere Deer (Anise-Licorice scent), Christmas Tree, Patchouli, Coconut Lemongrass, Lavender, Tahitian Vanilla (2 left), Lily of the Valley, and Lilac.

Also available are Oily Skin Soap and Shaving Soap.  The shaving soap is also available in a gift pack with a mug and shaving brush for $12.75 after the discount, regularly $15.

Let’s not forget lip balm!  Available in the following flavors:  Root Beer, Buttercream (smells like vanilla frosting!), Orange Vanilla, Peppermint, Chocolate Cream, Vanilla, Lemon Lime, Watermelon (5 left), and just ONE Black Cherry.

And last, but not least, are our two herbal products:  Herbal Salve in either a 4-oz tin, or in a lip balm tube.  This is great to use on very dry skin patches or to put on a minor cut or burn.  I’d mention the bug bites, but unless you’re in the south, that isn’t a likely need right now.  But it will still be good in the summer, so you could stock up on it now while it’s on sale.  We also have Bath Tea sachets in packs of 3.  You just drop one sachet in the tub and pleasant aroma and the properties of the herbs are released.  There are three kinds:  Lavender Bud, Rose Petals, and Baby Bath.  Baby Bath Tea is a combination of lavender buds, rosemary, red rose petals, and yarrow flowers to soothe and cleanse your skin.

If you want to add a unique touch to any gift, for an extra $2 I can pack your gift into an old-fashioned tin with tissue paper.   I have a couple of dozen tins here.  I’ll pick one that will be the right size for your gift.  I’ll just need you to let me know which items are to go into a tin.  Some are very small and will fit just one bar of soap, a small lotion, or a small bunch of lip balms.  Some are larger and will hold several of the large items.

Here are some photos of our little store-on-the-porch:

IMG_4333 IMG_4334 IMG_4335 IMG_4336 IMG_4337 IMG_4338 IMG_4339

 

Small Acres – Part 4

The "Greenhouse"Basics of Transplant Production – Setting Up Your Greenhouse

The third session of the Putting Small Acres to Work brought us to this talk by Hans Bishop of PrairiErth Farm, in Atlanta, IL.  I was very impressed with how large Hans and his Wife, Katie, grew their small farm business in a relatively short period of time.  They plant between 7 and 9 acres of vegetables that they sell at a farmers market in Springfield.  One of my notes is “specialize in diversity.”  They don’t just grow carrots – they grow orange carrots, yellow carrots, purple carrots.  They grow beets in red, white, and orange.  And more.  Diversity!

The difference between a greenhouse and a high tunnel (see Part 1 of this series) is heat.  A high tunnel (or hoop house) relies on the heat that can be captured from the sun.  A greenhouse has an added heat source.   The greenhouse is used to get plants started.  When the greenhouse gets too full and the plants are larger, they move some into unheated hoop houses until it’s time to transplant them into the field.

So, here are my notes:

Set up.  You need to figure out how many transplants you want to make in a year.  You don’t want to outgrow the greenhouse too fast, or have too few transplants and waste money on heating a greenhouse that is too big.  You need to figure out how many plants will be in there at any one time.  This is where having hoop houses, too, comes in handy.  Different plants need to be started at different times.  You may be able to have a smaller greenhouse for starting some plants, and then move them into a hoop house when it’s time to start something else, but the first plants aren’t able to go outside into the field just yet.  What will your heat source be?  Propane, electric, etc.  And what is the greenhouse going to be covered in?  Plastic sheeting, polycarb, glass, or something else?

What’s important?  Have systems ready to go.  Have backup systems.  Plan, plan, backup, backup.  Keep records from year to year so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Air circulation is very important to prevent disease and produce stronger plants.  They need some exposure to gentle wind to grow strong.   You can use fans, open doors, roll up the sides if you have plastic sheeting.  Air circulation also makes the temperature inside more constant and prevents hot and cold spots.

Effective use of heated space (to save money).  Use of a germination chamber  is more practical for starting seeds in the early months.  Heat mats with a thermostat are very helpful.  You can also hang a sheet of plastic from the ceiling of the greenhouse to create a germination chamber so you’ll need to heat only that small part of the greenhouse.  A bucket heater can be used to increase humidity and moderate the temperature.

Benches.  They use 2×4’s and sawhorses to set boards on to make benches.  They’ve obtained bread trays to put the soil blocks in and those trays sit on the benches.  He believes that building your own benches is best – cheaper and you make them the size you want them.  Plywood on the top can be used to add a flat work surface where you need it – and is easily moved to another area as you work.

They make their own soil blocks to put the seeds in.  Currently they buy a mixture from someone else, but they started by mixing their own.  It’s basically 3 parts peat, 2 parts compost, 2 parts perlite or vermiculite, 1 cup of sand, blood meal, cottonseed meal, and a dash of lime.  For germination, he uses 50-cell trays and places 7 seeds per cell.  Then I wrote, “heavy duty white plastic.”  I don’t remember why…  Is it for covering the trays to keep moisture in until germination occurs?  For seeds that are difficult to germinate, he sows them in 10×20 flats or broadcast sows them in a tray.  They use bottom heat to speed up germination time.  The plants are separated into one of three different sized soil blocks when the first true leaves appear.  Most go into 1 2/3″ blocks – chard, fennel, lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, herbs, cabbage.  These are smaller plants and plants that need a shorter start time.  In 2″ blocks go tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucurbits, okra – larger plants, anything that will be in the greenhouse a longer time.  He doesn’t use 3″ blocks much, except for plants that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to plant very soon, and crops with a higher value.

To prepare the plants for the field you need to harden them off by exposing them to some wind, changing temps, and water stress.  Check for diseases.  It’s better to transplant a smaller, more vigorously growing plant than an older, stunted one.

Record keeping is crucial.  Use a field journal and then transfer that information to your computer.  Record your plans, at least what you want and how many you want in the greenhouse.  Record the germination dates, how many germinated of each variety.  That tells you what kinds do best and how many you need to restart to meet your goals.  Create a spreadsheet.  Make sure each tray is labeled clearly.  You’ll never remember all the details.

I appreciated hearing the details of greenhouse growing.  Some of the things he mentioned I wouldn’t have thought of.  He had pictures of his greenhouse, the plants, the soil, and blocking tools – which is good because I had no idea what he meant when he first talked about using a “blocker”.  There’s always new terminology to learn in this farming thing!  I don’t have a greenhouse, so I have no picture of one.  The picture above is our seed-starting table in our dining room last year.  So far this year we have only tiny cauliflower leaves and a lot of dirt.  Not a fun picture.

PrairiErth Farm is another place I’d love to visit one day.  If you live in or around Springfield, you could buy their produce from the farmers market they go to.  Check them out at their website:  www.prairierthfarm.com

Small Acres – Part 3

100_5324Cottage Food Operation

During the second session at the Putting Small Acres to Work workshop series, I went to the one about the IL Cottage Food Law.  About two years ago, I attended a talk about the new law, but I wanted to see if anything had changed and to be certain I fully understood it.  The session was presented by Wes King of the Illinois Steward Alliance, who helped get this law passed.

This was kind of a big deal in Illinois, because before January 1, 2012, there wasn’t a clear law in place.  People who had been selling preserves, breads, etc., at farmers markets for years were suddenly being shut down because it had technically never been legal.  It just hadn’t been enforced.  When farmers markets grew in popularity, some health inspectors realized what was happening and were shutting down small mom-and-pop businesses – cutting off some of their income.  This law was made to again make it legal for these people to earn an income by selling home-baked goods.

The foods that can be made to sell by a cottage food operation are: high-acid jams, jellies and preserves, high-acid fruit butters, and baked goods such as breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries.  Pies allowed are from high-acid fruits.  It may also sell dry herbs, dry herb blends, and dry tea blends intended for end-use consumption.  A cottage food operation may only sell products at a farmers market in Illinois and gross receipts from the sale of food allowed under the law may not exceed $25,000 in a single calendar year.

There are also specific labeling requirements – name and address, common name of the product, all ingredients listed in order of weight, date processed.  It also must state the following phrase:  “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens.”  A placard with this statement must also be displayed prominently at the point of sale.  Allergen labeling as specified in federal labeling requirements is also required.

The operation must also have a Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.  The food does not need to be produced in a kitchen inspected and certified by the health department.  But, if you do have access to a certified kitchen you can produce any of the other foods that aren’t allowed by the Cottage Food Law.

I was glad that I attended this session because it gave me a better understanding of the work it took to get this law passed, and why some of the provisions are in place currently.  One of the parts of the law that is annoying to me is about being allowed to sell ONLY at farmers markets.  Wes explained that this law was meant to help create a stepping stone between a small at-home business and a full commercial business – which he said has been happening.  And THAT is exciting.  It allows people to start small, earn some money and save up to start a larger business, which benefits more than just the business owner.  If they allowed the items to be sold from the home, then it falls under the commercial business rules and it would all have to be produced in a commercial kitchen.  There are many people who hope this will change eventually, but it seems that these things always take a long time to change.

One of the people that sat in on this session mentioned that if a person wishes to build a commercial kitchen to NOT do it until you talk with the department of health FIRST.  It’s already an expensive job and if you do something wrong and it has to be fixed, it will cost even more.

Please, do NOT take this blog post as being comprehensive!  If you live in Illinois and wish to see if this is something you would like to do, you need more information!  Read the guidance document that the IDPH put together for local health departments to help them implement the law.  It is IDPH Technical Information Bulletin (TIB) #44.  This can be viewed by visiting the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Cottage Food Law page at http://www.ilstewards.org/content/12404.  More information is available at www.ilstewards.org by clicking on the “Policy Work” tab and looking at the resources there.  I also highly recommended building a relationship with your local/county health department early on so that you follow all the rules from the beginning to make it easier on yourself :)  If you live in another state, contact your local health department to see what laws are in place for a similar operation.

Small Acres – Part 2

IMG_2552This is part 2 of a 5 part series.

In the second breakout session of Putting Small Acres to Work, Keith and I split up.  I went to a session on the IL Cottage Food Law (which I’ll write about in part 3), while Keith attended Adapting to Changing Consumer Trends at Farmers’ Markets and Adding Value to Your Products.  When we got back together for the third session, he told me that he thinks I would have rather been in the workshop he was in.  Actually, the two made good companions and complemented each other perfectly – as did all the sessions we attended!

Back to the subject at hand… The session was presented by Matt & Debbie Daniels of Bear Creek Farm & Ranch, in Palmer, IL.  They’ve been on their farm for 17 years.  It has 45 acres and they raise everything naturally.  They started out like we did – raising a few (50) chickens for themselves and friends.  Then raising a few more and selling some at the farmer’s market.  They grew so much that one year they raised 4,000 chickens!  They also grow fresh produce to sell at market and a couple of stores.  They went on to say that at first they sold chicken in two forms: whole intact, or whole cut-up.  As time went on customers started asking for specific parts only, such as breasts or leg quarters.  That was a small market at first, but now about 80% of their chicken sales are parts and pieces.  This left them with the problem of what to do with the extra pieces no one wanted – backs and necks.  The only way they could sell those parts was to reduce the price so much that they would be losing money.  Their solution:  value added products.  They thought they could add value to those pieces by making them into chicken stock, cooked chicken meat, chicken salad and dog food.  This is where their story overlaps with the session I was in regarding the cottage food law.  It isn’t legal to make and sell these type of products in a home kitchen.  They decided to get a food managers license and build an on-farm certified kitchen in their garage.  This is an expensive – and extensive – project that they emphatically stated needs to be started by working with the county health department from the beginning!  If there is no way you can afford to build your own certified kitchen, you can get the food manager license and then look at finding a kitchen to rent.  Check with churches, community centers, or county extension offices.

The value added idea was expanded into other areas.  In addition to the broth and other chicken products, they could make pickles, dried herbs and peppers, butter from their milk.  These things have a longer shelf life and could extend their sales.  A head of lettuce could be sold as is, but when that lettuce was washed, cut and had other veggies added to make it a salad, they were able to sell it for a much higher price.  There are drawbacks to that – the time it takes to cut and prepare these foods, extra handling, packaging and storage.  But with some research they found that storage time could be extended by briefly soaking the veggies in a a solution of 1/2 oz of hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water (which is something I’ve read in other places).  Obviously, refrigeration would also be a key component into keeping cut veggies fresh, and freezers are needed to keep frozen things frozen.

For marketing their products, they sold at farmers’ markets and stores.  When selling these types of foods at a market, you need to check with each individual market to see what is legal to sell there.  I know that at some markets you can sell frozen chicken, eggs, etc., because they have electricity at the area.  Farmers who have freezers and coolers load them in their vehicles, or some have larger trucks with freezers/coolers permanently installed, and they can plug into the power source at the market.  The one I attend does not have this option, so those items are not allowed to be sold there.  Canned foods, dried foods, baked goods and fresh produce are all that are allowed.  When marketing to a store, you need to be able to consistently supply a high quality product.  Bear Creek Farm has a buy-back agreement with stores – whatever is left after a specified period of time, they will buy it back from the store.  This seems to apply mostly to fresh food, like sprouts.  This agreement allows them to command a higher price for their product because they are assuming the risk of loss of sale, not the store.  They also do home deliveries.

Other ideas for value added products that can be produced are cut flowers that are made into bouquets, pumpkins or gourds that are painted or carved, making wheat grass juice, using apples to make applesauce, apple juice or apple pie filling.  They also mentioned that they are planning on adding a greenhouse and high tunnel, which will extend the growing season.  They sat in on those same sessions that day, along with us.  (Part 1 of this series is on high tunnels, Part 4 will address greenhouses.)  A note that Keith wrote down is “texting and facebook with products available”.  I’m assuming that means they use these ways to notify existing customers of what is currently available.  Interestingly enough, using social media to promote your farm will be Part 5 of this series :)

On a side note, we got to chat with Matt & Debbie for about a half hour when the whole event was over and we’ve decided that at some point this summer we would like to drive down there and visit their farm – by appointment, of course.  To learn more about their farm and where you can buy their products, go to their website:  www.bearcreekfarmandranch.com.

Stay tuned – in a couple of days I’ll post about the IL Cottage Food Law.