Jason and I decided this past year to take a course called “Stateline Farm Beginnings” through the Learning Center at Angelic Organics in Caledonia, IL. (The Real Dirt on Farmer Johnis a pretty darn well-known documentary. Farmer John is the owner of Angelic Organics.) Anyway, they offer a fantastic farming/business course for people who are just starting out in the world of sustainable agriculture, or for people like Jason and I who are completely clueless suburbanites who just have the dream of one day being sustainable farmers.
This class kicked our butts (in a good way of course) and gave us a much-needed reality check, a wonderful network of like-minded farmers, and a PLAN. Invaluable. So, we whittled our dream down from 40 acres with every animal possible, to maybe 3 acres with bees, flowers, veggies and cleaning products. Huh? Cleaning products? Do those eat hay? No, no. But they do fit quite well with our long-term plan for our farm. Follow me . . .
When we first started having children, back in 2002, I began to actually think about the foods I was putting into my body and the chemicals I was using in my home. Both not good at the time. I did quite a bit of reading and experimenting with homemade cleaning products that actually worked, didn’t just smell like vinegar, and were completely safe for our little ones and the environment. I had been making and using these myself for years when I sort of slipped the idea onto the very bottom of a long list of possible farm ventures early on in the class. I definitely hoped no one would notice it.
Not because I didn’t think it was a great idea. I thought it was a marvelous idea, actually. Which is how it wormed its way from the back of my head onto that piece of paper in the first place. I just thought being 6 months pregnant, working part-time, homeschooling 2 kids, and chasing after a 4 and 2-year-old was enough. And I really wasn’t looking for more. Really.
But, wouldn’t you know that every person who saw that list landed on that tiny idea at the bottom and gushed over it? Dang. Of course Jason was one of those people, and the more he heard from other people how excited they were, the more excited he became. I just sat there and smiled, screaming in my head, “THERE IS NO WAY I AM DOING THIS!!” Well, that didn’t last long.
With no land to farm, and no equity in our current home anymore (gee, can anyone relate?) – we were rather stuck in the world of farming. Cleaning products was something we could do from our little suburban kitchen! And we can still feel like we are somehow participating in the sustainable agriculture community.
But, the real reason we started Blessed Roots Farm in the first place was to give a gift to our children. A gift that is about so much more than farming. We want them to not be held back by the world’s view of what they are supposed to do. And, perhaps more importantly, to not be held back by their own fear or apathy and just going for it – whatever it is. I cannot teach that lesson to my children if I sit back and say, “I don’t have time for that!” or “That isn’t exactly what I had in mind.” Neither of those statements will produce anything other than the status quo in my life and kids who settle for it in theirs.
So, with the support and encouragement of my husband, during a whirl-wind three months before the arrival of #5, Blessed Roots Farm had our first venture ready to take to market. And I gotta say, I am so glad we pushed. Not because we love cleaning products, not because we needed something else to do, but because our kids watched the whole thing happen and learned a lot.
A beautiful day like today, with the whole family together at the market selling our natural cleaning products, is the perfect reward.