Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Crunching the numbers...

Farmer's Market

So, it is time to evaluate the profit/loss for this past year.  I have been dreading this and putting it off but it needs to be done.  I knew going in to this that I would be in the red.  Mostly, because I made several larger purchases that were needed but now that I have them, I do not need to purchase again.  For example, I purchased an irrigation system for the sunflowers, a new sign for the booth, and registered ReMARKable Farms with the state.  Each of these things cost about/over $100 but I will not have to pay these items again for a few years (fingers crossed).

Here are the numbers:

2015 2016
Income $733.00 $603.00
Expense $820.93 $901.49
Total -$87.93 -$298.49
They always say that the first 2 years are the most difficult for new businesses.  I am just happy to be getting started and that we can finance these losses easily.  

The good news is that I have saved up $480 in the ReMARKable Farms checking account to start for 2017.  See, in the past, any deficits were paid from the Wetzel household.  My goal for 2017 is that ReMARKable Farms be completely self-sustaining and it is a very doable goal.  I have even set aside our first weeks Vendor fee for the Market and starting cash.

On a separate but related topic, I have been putting money into a savings account for Mark's egg business and we have now saved $2000.  My goal is to have $5000 by the time he graduates from high school.  He is now in his sophomore year...if I keep up with my savings, we will have the money all ready when we need it and can use it as matching funds to get other loans/grants to start our egg business.

Farmer's Market Lesson's Learned


The sunflowers did not seem as popular this year.  I think that there were more vendors selling flowers this year.  I had tried a bunch of new varieties and most of them them just did not work.  So, next year, I am going to regroup and just focus on mostly the single stem varieties.  The branching varieties just did not grow long enough stems to really be used.  I will also try growing even more...I know I say this every year and I have been increasing the number.  However, most of my experimental plants this past year just did not work.  The past 2 years I have brought just over 300 sunflowers to the market each year.,,still thinking...

Jams and Jellies

I have applied for several low sugar jam permits and have received them.  So, next year, I will have low sugar jam for sale.  I don't think there are any other vendors that sell low sugar jam so this will fill a niche.  Also, I have been approved to sell my sunflower jelly.  This was very popular a couple of years ago.  

Another idea that I had for the jams...start selling some pint jars.  I already sell 1/2 pints and 1/4 pints. so there are 2 sizes to choose from.  This past year, I had an old friend contact me via Facebook.  I showed her the farm Facebook page and she said she wanted some huckleberry jam.  She said she wanted 2 1/2 pints.  I asked if I could just make a pint and send it to her because I was getting ready to make some more jam.  She said that was fine so I started cooking.  After it was finished, I went back on to our Facebook messenger conversation to ask for her address and she had deleted our conversation...so weird.  So, I had this pint of huckleberry jam so I just took it with me to the Farmer's market and sold it right away...then, the next week when I made jam, I made another pint and also sold it at the Farmer's market.  The other "jam" vendors at the market only sell one size of jar...both sell 1/2 pints.  I was thinking that having different sizes may be a nice marketing strategy.  It's like having more variety for people to choose from...another idea to try.

Dandelion Wine Salt

This sold well.  I made some sunflower wine and I will use this next year so it will be Sunflower Wine Salt.

Other products...

I was thinking about adding some sunflower lotion bars.  Just not 100% sure about this yet...

Sunday, October 9, 2016


In the Kitchen

Last weekend, our neighbor came over and wanted to show us something.  It was a secret Italian plum tree that is located right behind our rental house.  It is a little bit hidden but it is on city property so it is fair game for picking.  So, Henry picked over 17 pounds of plums!

It was a bit of a challenge to use all these plums.  As you may know, once you pick a plum, it doesn't really keep that long.  So, immediately, I made a bunch of plum conserve to use as Christmas gifts.  A conserve is a "mixture of various fruits are called conserves. Basically, all conserves are jams, but not all jams are conserves. Make sense? Conserves usually contain fruit mixed together with sugar and sometimes nuts and dried fruits."

Next, I made some plum barbecue sauce...Here is the recipe I used for that...Plum Barbecue Sauce

Then, with the last 5 pounds, I decided to do some dehydrating.  For my birthday last month, Henry got me this book.  

Dehydrating has lots of advantages over other types of food preservation.  For example, if you have items in the freezer and you lose power, you might lose all the food in the freezer if it thaws out and goes bad.  Here are some other advantages of dehydrating from themessybaker.com:

Depending on whether you buy extra trays, a good dehydrator costs less than $100, lasts years and can be shoved in a closet when not being used. Beyond that food dehydrators:

1. Save space: Yes, the machine itself takes up room, but it shrinks food significantly, allowing you to fit a lot of  preserves into a small area. This is ideal for camping, large families, and anyone with little room and a big appetite.
2. Extend shelf-life:  The book says dehydrated food keeps for 1 year to be safe, but Jennifer has kept items for 2 years without signs of mold. I didn’t dehydrate enough food to test this time limit. Most of my preserves are gone before winter is over.
3. Make bad food obvious:  Unlike with canning, which can harbour invisible bacteria, when dried food is compromised you can easily see the mold.
4. Create versatile results:  Not only can you dehydrate  fruits, vegetables, herbs and more, you can eat them dried or rehydrate them for anything from cobblers to pizza sauce.
5. Are cost effective:  Dehydrators are not outrageously expensive and allow you to save the harvest when it’s least expensive. Most units are expandable, so you can buy more trays and layers as needed — or not, if that’s the case.
6. Are flexible to use: You can dry one peach or a basket. The unit can run for days on end or for just a few hours.
7. Have a fool-proof technique: Because the temperatures are so low it’s almost impossible to over-dry. Jennifer assured me more than once that, “You can’t mess up!” So, I tested her theory. Yup. I forgot about my first batch of dried peaches when I left them to cool. Of course it was a very humid day and they partially rehydrated. I dried them again, and they’re fine.
8. Create healthy food: Dehydrated fruits and vegetables require no added sugar or salt or preservatives. Plus you get all the fibre of the whole fruit and all the minerals.

Here is a video series about getting started with dehydrating:

So, we were successful in using all the plums and now have some unique gifts for Christmas.