As I sit here in the dead of winter, I’m thinking about spring, summer and fall, and what I want the next version of Red Gate Farm to be. In the early days, when my Mom would spend the summers with me, we were mostly focused on heirloom vegetables and some flowers. I helped Mom plant the garden, but she tended it all summer. Once she missed her first summer staying here, I realized I couldn’t both maintain a large garden and bake. (by that point, baking had become the bigger part of my business)
When we did have a large garden, out of everything I did, making cut flower bouquets was my favorite. I’m OK at getting the garden in, but keeping it weeded is a challenge. My husband Bob helps set up irrigation on timers, so that part is easy, but it’s tending the garden that I struggle with for some reason. I tried to plant perennials that would come back each year, but the best cut garden flowers are mostly annuals.
When I moved last year, we left the greenhouse behind thinking I would just get a new one. Lo and behold, with rising prices my former greenhouse is now 3x what I paid for it in 2015, and it’s almost $10K to duplicate it. SO, I’m trying to figure out how to start seeds for the coming gardening season. But my intent is to have a flower garden in my Mom’s honor. I will also grow some heirloom tomatoes and other veggies that we eat.
The farm stand will mostly feature baked goods, but as the season goes on, I will have some veggies and eventually flowers. If I can find some part time help in the kitchen, I think it will be easier to do a wider variety of things this year. I will have my vintage camper parked out front with some sewn goods (bucket hats), soaps and other items, and will try to keep jam in stock this year. If I can partner with a local farmer that I know, I will also feature his organic produce from time to time. If possible, I will sell seasonal fruit as I have in past years, but for a few years, getting the strawberries has been a challenge so we’ll see what this coming season brings.
Sometimes I ask myself why I do this. It’s certainly not for the money, LOL. I think part of it is because I remember my early days of coming up north, to this area, and how special it felt and still feels to me. I want to give visitors that special feeling of something unique that they might not find wherever they’re from. For all my customers, I strive to bake consistently tasty baked goods, from quality ingredients, at a fair price. With the cost of ingredients having gone up SO MUCH, my prices will go up too, but I will never gouge my customers or price seasonally.
One of the main reasons I do this is because it’s fun or me, and I love being at home now and not in the corporate world. My life is simpler and I think I’ve relaxed and have more moments of happiness than I did in the past. I worry that my gap year of 2022 may impact my business, but I’m hoping once I’m open in the higher visibility location, business will eventually return to normal.
The last thing I feel compelled to touch on is selling eggs. Our flock is down to 21 old chickens. We get between 1-4 eggs right now. We will let the chickens pass naturally, and once we are down to a smaller flock we will get rid of the Chicken Bus and keep a very small flock in Bob’s old chicken coop. The Bus served its purpose and I like having chickens, but I don’t want to keep a large flock anymore. So, unless something changes, I won’t be selling eggs anymore.
Cheers to all who have made it this far – I look forward to 2023 and all of the opportunities it will present for me to do my thing at the farm stand, with all of you there to see it and cheer me on! (with hope) All my best, Andria