Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Had an eventful weekend. Had friends visit from California and officially opened the Eco-Farm store. Oh and did a farmers' market too boot.
The week end started off early, like a 4:30am saturday morning wake-up call so's we could get everything that needed to be done before leaving for market at 6:30am (and that would be opening/feeding the chickens, packing and loading coolers and crates onto the van, consumption of coffee and breakfast, getting money ready for market, etc..). The day was beautiful, clear and cool with low humidity, which was nice after a very hot humid and rainy week (we got over 5" of rain in 3 days-tropical). Had a good market. Our first customer told us our farm store signage was terribly confusing and wondered if we had had any business and we admitted no not much. She suggested strongly we do something about this situation. She was polite but to the point and right on. It was busy and we sold out of many things though brought back a lot of cukes and snow peas. But than we have been picking a lot of cukes and snow peas the past week. It is their time, it seems. And we did sell a lot of both at market.
On our way home we checked out the Eaton Farmers' market and ran into Maggie Weidick who seems to be the market manager. It was a cute market and I met some nice people there who may sell their things through our store. We were invited to come and set up a table and perhaps we will figure out the logistics of how to do this with out investing in another vehicle (we have a cargo van and a 1987 Mitsubishi Montero which is about the smallest SUV ever made and it does not hold much. Certainly not enough to do a decent farmers' market.). It would be good local exposure for the farm stand that is for sure. I was a bit disturbed that they were allowing reselling. Reselling is not fair to the customers or other farmers who sell only what they grow. But since I am about to become a reseller perhaps I should not be so judgmental. But than again having one's own farm stand is quite a bit different than attending a farmers' market (it's the same, only different). Ended up buying some good hot salsa, a glass of lemonade and some calendula that I will eventually make into a salve for cuts (it's better than Neosporin™ for keeping cuts infection free and killing an infection).
Got home, ate lunch took a nap and than started cleaning the house because my college buddy Julie (Presar) Quinn and her family were due to arrive that evening. While I was cleaning and preparing one of our pastured chickens for dinner, Eugene was out doing something about the signage as was suggested at market. We have a sign that has the farm name, Boulder Belt Eco-Farm but also the words "Opening Soon". We also have a plastic yellow sign with removable letters that sez "Open", the days and hours we are open and "Cukes, Snow and Snap peas" on it. So You can see the confusion. One sign says we will be open sometime in the future and the other says we are open now. A bit of Mineral spirits got rid of the "opening Soon" on one sign and than we set up a small table with a bit of produce (snow peas and cukes) and within 5 minutes got our first customers! Wow. Than 5 minutes after that the Quinn's arrived and we shut down for the day and communed with our left wing liberal friends from Northern California. I do not know why Eugene and I do not move there, The people I know from that region seem so much more reasonable than Midwesterners. It was great to see Julie, Lawrence, and their kids Patrick and Georgie. They have some great kids, I must say. We showed them the garden and chickens, drank beer, ate food, had a fire and talked about all sorts of things that first evening.
Sunday came and they made plans to move on. They had to be in Cleveland by Monday and wanted to go see the Newark Earthworks and Yellow Springs, OH. So we looked at maps and than we women (Me, Julie and Georgie) went to the garden to pick peas and strawberries while the guys fished and played with tools. Around 11am the Quinn's left in a flurry of digital picture taking (their camera not mine which was out of juice) and we set up shop for our first official day of Eco-Farm Store sales.
Eugene set up a table and loaded it with veggies and crafts. I looked at what he had done and grabbed a cooler and some ice packs and a towel (to cover the ice packs) and put all the greens (chard, kale, baby lettuce and arugula) in the cooler so they would not be ruined sitting in 80 Degree heat all afternoon. Than I found our dry erase boards and cleaned them off (let me tell you blue dry erase ink sitting on one of these boards for 2+ years is NOT easy to remove. It took a lot of rubbing alcohol to dissolve the stuff) and put new messages on them about pricing, chickens and the fact we had greens in the cooler. Than I grabbed a couple of the new banners we ordered for the farm store and put those up on the porch supports (one sez "LOCALLY GROWN" and the other sez "FRESH PRODUCE") and than I waited for the crowds. Well we did not get crowds but we did get about 12 people to stop and half of those bought something. We probably would have sold more but I had to leave the store and got harvest a few items mid afternoon and while I was doing that several people stopped but drove on. I am sure they all would have bought something if one of us had been attending to the store. A lot of people were looking for sweet corn and big red slicing tomatoes. Two things that are not ready yet in Ohio.
I sold a lot of cukes, some peas and got a lot of reading done (sitting around waiting for customers to drive up can be deadly boring without some sort of reading material and I have a book I have been working on since October that I will be able to finish in a couple of days of store sittin'). I'd say we had a successful first day of business and it will only get better as we get more items people are looking to buy such as corn, beans and 'Maters.
If you live in the Greater Eaton, OH area stop by any Wed, Thurs, Sat or Sun afternoon/evening and see what we have.