The Business Diaries - We Are Farmers
Many moons ago, when Dana and I were first dating, he was still going home from college every weekend to work on the farm. His plans were in place that when he finished school, he would go back to working on the farm. I felt it very necessary to let him know, fairly early on in the relationship, that this Jersey girl really didn't have plans of living on a farm. At the time I was young and ambitious and had plans of conquering the world and being very successful in marketing and business. Dana ended up making choices that lead him down a different path that didn't involve him going back to the farm. Although I enjoyed a great career in marketing for some time, I never conquered the world. Thank goodness. Conquering the world is way too much pressure. I share all this because it brings to the light the humorous irony that I keep becoming more and more aware of. We are farmers. (please feel free to sing the song from the Farmer's Insurance Company - "We are farmers, duh duh duh duh da!" I think I first began to understand a hint of it when we bought a dump truck. And tanks. Lots and lots of tanks. Tanks for water, tanks for sap tanks for syrup. Then, we came to the realization that we needed to change our company name and we became Finding Home FARMS. Then, last year we bought land, our maple farm. Slowly but surely, once I got over the surprise that we have become farmers, I have embraced it and delighted in it. Long gone is the young overly ambitious Jersey girl who didn't understand what a privilege it is to be a farmer and live the life that becomes part of that. I realize we are not traditional farmers in that we are not planting seeds or milking the cows, but who knows, if my daughters have anything to say about it, we will have a whole herd of farm animals some day And so with that new found appreciation for the fact that we are farmers, yesterday we had the privilege of joining Westtown Brew Works along with Westtown Fare restaurant, Old Mother Hubbert's dairy and Black Dirt Distillery in hosting about 40 country club chefs from Westchester County, NY. The plan had been for the group to arrive at the brewery after touring a few locations, they would have a short meeting, we would do a five minute spiel and then the chefs could taste our syrup throughout the afternoon event. What actually happen is as soon as they came in, they wanted to taste the syrup, both grades and we couldn't pour fast enough. It was so much fun. To be able to share our maple syrup, something we love so much, and have such a great reaction from the chefs was so great. We had no intention of selling syrup, although we did have some in each of their gift bags. However, a handful of the chefs insisted on buying some right there, even buying a few of our gallon jugs. Orange County, in the beautiful Hudson Valley has always been world class in agriculture, especially in the black dirt region. There have been generations of dairy farmers and our apple orchards are packed with city visitors all summer and fall. The opportunity has been ripe to make the connection with consumers and those who are turning local food into amazing meals and drinks. That is what we are seeing now. This move towards "agritourism" where the consumer can see where their food is grown, see how a tree is tapped, see how their beer is brewed while looking on the fields where the hops were grown is exciting. We are so privilege to be even a small part of it. I remember when I first heard rumors of someone growing hops in the town next to us. I found it hard to believe. Who would do that in our little area? We spent the day yesterday next to those hops (or the growth that is to come this season) sharing our syrup with talented chefs. It was such a reminder that when you take off on a journey of starting your own business, you never know where you are going to end up. You could end up a farmer and being so happy for it.