This season marks our 3rd year as a vendor at the Hendersonville Farmers Market. Since it was our first market, we are definitely invested in it being the best market it can possibly be.
What you may, or may not know, is that we are now 1 of only 2 “producer only” farmers at the market. This means the two of us are the only vendors selling exclusively what we grow. As a result, we can tell customers exactly how something was grown, when/how it was harvested and what, if anything, has been sprayed (only organic certified in our case) on the different crops.
Unfortunately some of the other vendors try to be all things to all people. They call themselves farms, but do not grow a great majority of what they sell. Instead they go to auction houses, or regional distribution centers, to buy the produce they turn around and resell. In effect they are buying from commercial farms (probably not local) with no idea how the produce was grown. As long as they are upfront and honest about where their produce comes from, we have no complaints. We learned the first year that people wanting the least expensive “grocery store” produce, with no concern for where or how it was grown, are not our customers. Where we have an issue is when someone is less than honest about where their produce comes from. We feel this hurts the credibility of the market and places those of us who are selling only what we grow at a significant disadvantage.
When visiting a farmers market, whether it’s the HFM or another market, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the farmer before buying. How was it grown? Can we come and visit the farm? When did you harvest this? These are all valid questions and ones we enjoy answering, as we love talking about what we do and how we do it. In addition, be aware of what produce is in season here in Middle TN. If you don’t see it at a producer only vendor’s booth, chances are pretty good it was trucked in and not from around here.
We believe strongly in our slogan, “know your farmer, know your food” and think you do as well. Just know we appreciate you guys and love working hard to provide you and your families with healthy, all-natural produce!
Cage free…vegetarian fed…free range… Ever wonder what these terms really mean? Check out the video below to find out:
“Know your farmer, know your food” is something we say a lot around here. Given the amount of deceptive/vague labeling on store bought food, we believe knowing exactly where your food comes from is the best way to ensure natural, healthy food for your family.
As we kick off our 3 rd year of all-natural farming, I thought it could be helpful to share some past educational posts, as well as a couple new articles to help our friends and customers become more intentional when buying food for the family. Here’s a short list that you will hopefully find helpful:
I don’t know about you, but we are excited to see fall just around the corner. As you can imagine, summer is crazy busy on the farm. Cultivating, planting, weeding, picking, packing baskets, rinse and repeat over and over. Whew! Getting tired again just remembering!
Fall, on the other hand, signals a time when things begin to slow down a touch and we get a little time to catch our breath. Of course this doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening on the farm. Oh no, far from it. Just means we’re not as crazy busy as during the summer!
Fall also means I now have time to update everyone on all the happenings around the farm. There are new additions to both our animal collection and product offerings. Can’t wait to tell you about ’em, so here goes!
Click here for our fall newsletter…
As most of you probably know, we sell whole, pasture-raised chicken (more info) here on the farm and at the Hendersonville Farmer's Market. We've made the decision to only sell whole chickens because we believe utilizing the whole bird allows our customers to get the biggest bang for their buck.
Of course when we tell this to potential new customers, we hear things like "how do I use a whole chicken", "there's only 2 of us", "we only eat white meat" or "how do you cut up a whole chicken". I must confess, all of these used to apply to us as well. However, now that we've learned how to maximize the whole bird, we love it and hopefully you will too!
To help you get the most out of your next whole chicken, here are some helpful tips and recipes:
Recently the Nashville Farmer’s Market was in the news when the announcement was made that this spring they will revert to being a “producer” only market. In other words, only the people who actually make, raise or grow the products they are selling will be allowed to have booths.
The decision has been both applauded and derided, depending on perspective. Local farmers who sell at the market are 100% in support, as are customers who want to buy directly from the farmer growing the food. On the other side are the “resalers” (wholesale produce suppliers) who have been selling at the market for years and the customers who prefer convenience and year-round produce availability.
I posted the article from The Tennessean on my personal Facebook page, as well as our farm page, and received numerous well-stated comments from both sides. As I thought about replying to each one, I realized it made more sense to write this post and explain in more detail where I land in this debate. Obviously, as a local farmer, I have a dog in this hunt, so it’s only fair our customers (and potential customers) know exactly where we stand on this issue.
Let me start by giving a couple of definitions of what is a farmer’s market:
In both cases the emphasis is on farmers selling directly to customers. This is why farmer’s markets were started. To give local farmers a cost effective way to connect and sell directly to local customers. As a new farm starting out last year, selling at a local “farmer’s market” was critical for us. It gave us exposure to new customers that we otherwise would not easily have gotten and a number of those customers have continued to support us through the winter.
While definitely a win for us, participating in this market also taught us some valuable lessons. Unlike the direction the Nashville market is taking, our market is not a “producer-only” market. In other words there are produce vendors there who are “resalers” and do not grow what they sell. Some are very open about this and others…not so much. As the season went on, these are the lessons we learned…
That being said, I would definitely like to see full disclosure from all the vendors at our market. Did you make, raise or grow the products you’re selling? If not, be up front and tell people where they came from. It’s pretty obvious when the bottom of the mug says “made in China”, but not so much when it comes to produce. I believe full disclosure helps even the playing field and gives the local farmer (like us) a fighting chance to be successful at market.
The next time you’re shopping at a farmer’s market, and in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask where that produce came from and how it was grown. It’s your right as a consumer to get an honest answer before spending your hard-earned money. For those of you who really care about where the food you’re eating comes from, we have very simple advice for you… “Know your farmer, know your food.”
We would love to hear more from you and what your thoughts are on this topic. Please feel free to share in our comments section.
don’t know about you, but we have much to be thankful for here on the farm. Our first year of operation has provided us with many more ups than downs and we look forward to next year and all the new experiences it will bring.
As we enter into the holiday season, we wanted to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully it will be joyful time with family and friends. We’re looking forward to having all of our kids and grandson here to celebrate and believe it or not…we’re planning to have pasture-raised chicken instead of turkey. What can I say? We didn’t raise any turkeys!
For all of you planning to do the cooking this Thanksgiving, I thought I would leave you with a recipe. If you don’t have a favorite gravy recipe (and heaven forbid you don’t plan on opening a can…), here’s one I came across this week and plan on trying myself. It looks delicious!
Finally, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe? We would love it (and I’m sure our readers would too) if you would take just a minute and post it to our comments.
Again, Happy Thanksgiving and let’s go Cowboys!!
As someone new to “commercial” farming, I must admit I did not know a lot about GMOs when we launched our farm last year. However, over the past year I’ve learned enough to realize the use of GMOs is a very complex issue, with the discussion driven by passionate people on both sides who know a lot more about science than I ever will.
For those who may not know, GMO stands for genetically modified organism.
Dictionary.com defines a GMO as "an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. Note: a higher percentage of food crops such as corn and soybeans are genetically modified."
Basically it’s inserting genes from one organism into another in order to accomplish a desired outcome in the host organism.
My intent with this post is not to try and persuade you to believe one way or the other, but to simply raise awareness. I want to encourage you to do your own research and make your decisions based on what you believe is best for you and your family. To help kick start the education process, here are 3 links I would suggest you read:
Hard to believe, but this past week we delivered our last CSA baskets for 2014! Sometimes it has seemed like it was just last month we started on this journey and other times it felt like our 6 month CSA season would never end. We’ve decided that’s pretty much the nature of small farming.
That being said, we would like to thank all of our customers. Some of you we knew before we started, but many of you we met for the first time this year and now consider you a member of our farm family.
While we still have almost 2 months remaining in the year, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on our first year of farming. This past weekend I was entering data into Quickbooks and decided to take a look at what we’ve sold so far this year. Would you believe we’ve sold approximately 750 dozen eggs and 1,500 pounds of chicken?? I know, pretty crazy for a couple of newbie farmers! Throw in the 4 hogs we’ve sold and it’s safe to say we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the demand for our pastured pork and poultry.
On the produce side, we’ve learned that growing fresh, all-natural produce is a lot of hard work. Weeding will definitely help you burn a bunch of calories and I think it’s safe to say I’ve killed more bugs with my hands than 95% of the US population! However we both felt it was worth it when we delivered our CSA baskets and heard great feedback on the quality and taste of what we were growing.
Again, many thanks to all of you who have helped make this first year of farming successful and very rewarding and we look forward to seeing you around the farm soon!
Recently we had the opportunity to host a film crew from RFD-TV for the morning. A former LifeWay colleague, Pam Case, is executive director of their evening rural news show and she suggested they come out to do a story on our transition from the corporate world to that of farmers. We had a lot of fun showing them around the farm, doing an interview and then watching the story the following day on their evening news show.
Personally, I think the piglets and chicks steal the show, but I’ll let you decide. Here’s the story. Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what part you liked most!
RFD-TV News Story