chickens · flower farming · Garden Project · Red Dirt Farmstand

Red Dirt Farm Stand – plans and dreams for 2017

I run a small – very small honor system farm stand at the edge of our farm.  I sell fresh eggs from our chickens and cottage style flowers I grow in our gardens. Sometimes I sell my handmade items too.  This year I hope to expand the offerings.

I met a woman last summer at the stand that asked if I was doing this just for fun.  I answered yes. I guess because I felt a little embarrassed by my humble attempts.  What I really wanted to say was, this is my business, my goal is to earn money.

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The next time someone asks what I do or why I’m doing it, I’m going to be brave and own the title that I’m a backyard chicken and flower farmer.

My goal as I plan for the season of 2017, is to have fun and earn money doing what I love.  I don’t plan to ever make it look like some big commercial operation.  However, I would like to offer more items and increase my sales.

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The first part of my plan is expanding our flock.  Next week, a clutch of sweet chirping chicks will arrive.   I am working towards primarily raising Heritage Breeds because it is important to me to practice old school farming.

  Heritage breeds of poultry are those old breeds that have been on our homesteads and communities for generations and centuries.  A heritage breed is a purebred and breeds pure.  Many of these old breeds are endangered as folks wanted to experiment with newer, flashier hybrids that were engineered to produce more eggs or mature quickly for the meat market, thereby many of the old standbys fell out of favor and were not getting bred.

The two new breeds that I have on the way, are Delawares and Black Alstralorps.  They both produce brown eggs.

 After talking with some local folks I have come to understand that there is a demand for white eggs.  I do not have any chickens at this time that produce white eggs.  I hope to find some breeds here locally, that meet my preferences that I can add to the flock later this spring that will produce white eggs.

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Two other ideas that I am mulling over are selling chickens that I raise and adding Guinea Hens to our flock.

Guinea Hens are not chickens – they look and behave quite differently.  Guineas make great guard animals, sounding loud alarms as predators encroach their territory.  They also make for a good natural pest control on the farm, as they are voracious consumers of many unwanted bugs and ticks. Their meat is also considered quite a delicacy.  We do not, however, eat our pets here at Red Dirt.  Guineas are known to be loud and make constant noise.

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 I grow old-fashioned – heirloom flowers in a sustainably responsible way – pesticide and completely chemical free manner.   Last growing season, I harvested buckets and armfuls of fresh flowers each day.

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 Day after day, I made fresh arrangements of simple, yet lovely flowers and put them out to sell at the farm stand.

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I set up a workstation inside the farm stand tents.

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 At the end of the season, I had to admit, from a business standpoint it was a complete failure.  My community did not support this notion of buying fresh flowers grown locally and sold on the side of the road.

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 Not one to give up so easily, I plan to increase my gardens and the types of flowers I grow and have available this season.  I feel very passionate about the Slow Flower movement and hope I get the opportunity to educate my neighbors and encourage them to be a part of this practice and to understand that the flowers they put on their table and how they were grown, is as important as the way their food is grown.

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Canning jar filled with cottage flowers.

Last year I sold (or attempted) to sell my flowers in simple canning jars.  I had a sign that said customers could return the jar on their next visit.  Perhaps this made people feel uncomfortable – that they were obligated to come back?  That was certainly not what I meant to imply.  This year I’m thinking of offering my arrangements wrapped in paper – more of a grab and go offering.  Thoughts?

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While I was disappointed in the lack of interest in my flowers, I really looked forward each day to going out to the gardens and harvesting.  It was time spent enjoying the blooms, the many birds, bees and butterflies that benefited from the gardens.  I spent endless hours photographing these blooms and buzzing critters.  It was also educational time spent watching, observing and learning from the chickens as they foraged among the plants.  I look forward to doing this all over again during this coming growing season.

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I leave you with a big dream – to someday have a real building for our farm stand, to replace the rather worn tents.  It may not happen this year, but I’ve put it out there in wish land.

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Thank you for being here today.

xo Kim

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Formerly Coral Cottage – Now Red Dirt Farm – Red Dirt Cottage

If you are interested in learning more about heritage breeds or heritage style farming Mother Earth has a great article here.

To learn more about the Slow Flower movement here is an article by the LA Times.

Follow along at The Simple Homestead Blog Hop

23 thoughts on “Red Dirt Farm Stand – plans and dreams for 2017

  1. I hope all your dreams come true for your roadside stand. I think people do get intimidated thinking they have to return a jar or whatever it may be. I would give the flowers wrapped in paper a try. What do you have to lose, right.

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    1. Hi Pam – thanks for sharing your opinion. I think I’ve come around to feeling the same as you do, while it wasn’t my intentions to make people feel like they had to return the jars, it would be nice if they did on their next visit. So many customers bring their egg crates back, although my state laws don’t allow for me to re-use them. I kinda thought folks would do that with the jars too. Chalk it up to lesson learned. Thanks for your support. xo kim

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  2. Your first comments remind me about the struggle I had in calling myself an “artist” back when we first met. I think you should embrace being a farmer. Making money at it doesn’t change the effort and love that you put into it. Hopefully, the money will come as people get more used to your stand and offerings. Someday, I’d like to stop by and see those gorgeous flowers in person! Thank you for such beautiful images on a gray February day!

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    1. Lisa – you are exactly right about that putting the label artist on yourself. But look at yourself now, there can be no question that you are an artist, and quite accomplished at that! I struggled with that for the longest time too. Once I just did it I didn’t give it a second thought. But, having said that, I’m not a label kind of person – I have too many interests and things I like to do, my art, my animals my flowers. I need to come up with an all-inclusive title. Or hey – I’m just Kim. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, it is very gray and dreary here too. If ever you find yourself in this neck of the woods, it would be lovely. xo kim

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  3. Your cut flowers are wonderful. I’m glad you aren’t giving up on the idea and will try again this year. I would buy them if you were closer and I fee;l strongly about Slow flowers movement too. I think the flowers look so pretty in the jars, maybe you can give them the option of wrapping them in paper, some may think the jars are difficult to transport. Sarah x

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  4. Hi Sarah – so glad someone out there is familiar and supportive of the Slow Flowers movement. I started wondering if the jars with water in them were worrying people too. I think this year I will offer two options – jars and wrapped. I’ll just see what happens. Biggest thing right now is getting local people to know about my stand and stop. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. xo kim

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  5. Way back in about 2004, I had a business here selling flower bouquets. I called it ‘The Flowersmith,’ since our last name is Smith, I thought it fit. I sold to a local winery-5 gallon buckets delivered for 20$ each. I kept all my cut flowers in our dirt floor cellar to keep them cool and fresh till they went out for delivery. I also sold at a local farm and craft market near here called The Windmill-they have a website, and it’s gotten to be a real tourist attraction. I did ok-but it wasn’t my true calling. I sold garden things I made too-which kinda made me feel like I was being true to the real me. Now, there is a real art to making beautiful flower arrangements. I read that only artists make the best ones, because they are so tuned into textures and colors.
    I had huge areas here devoted to flowers and I worked very , very hard to make it a go. I think the only reason I didn’t keep doing it was that I really wanted to be a visual artist in the traditional sense-meaning using paint and fabric, etc.
    I think your idea of paper is a good one-but first wrap the ends of the bunches in plastic wrap after they’ve been dunked in water-I think you probly already figured that one out though! I found the plastic holds a lot of water, and keeps everything else dry (like your paper-which I’m sure will be pretty too!)
    When people ask questions like the lady did-I don’t think they really understand just how much you are putting into what you have in your stand. But the question prompted you to think-and that’s good, because it seems like it helped you define what you want to accomplish. Educating and supporting the good things you want to do is a real mission-I did not have that at all in my flower biz. I just wanted to make pretty bunches and sell them. I applaud you-can you hear me clapping?? You have a MARVELOUS idea here-and I do hope someday you will have your flower stand in a house or building of your dreams. I know that will be as beautiful as your cottage.
    So dream away my friend, you have a good, good thing going.

    Sorry this is so about (ME) here-I just couldn’t resist telling that part of my history…….
    PS Do you have biz cards? Some of your photos with the hens and the flowers together would be amazing….
    Love, Debra

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    1. Sweet Debra – thank you for sharing your personal flower history. I so enjoyed hearing all this. I had actually wondered if you had done something like this before, there was something I read or the impression I got somewhere along the line. Or maybe it was ESP! I swear sometimes I think we are related. I’d love to be able to go to a local farm market and sell – get myself out there and known to the community, but it just isn’t in the cards at this time. Maybe later. I don’t pretend that I make extravagant flower arrangements, I’m more a simple is best for me. Maybe I need to work on that discipline… I had some cards printed up, no one ever took any and since I suck at self-promotion I never handed any out either. However, I had been thinking of doing some with the chickens and flowers, just like you suggested. Thank you for being so supportive. Right now time in the gardens are healing for my spirit and my body as I have journeyed these last few years on such unstable ground. I’m most connected and feel at peace working with the flowers and my animals – even more so than I ever did with my art – which you know I love too. xo kim

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  6. Hi Kim!
    Your photos are simply beautiful…and thank you for your email thru my website (I tried to reply to your email address but for some reason would not go thru)….the book will be on it’s way to you next week! The farm stand in my story is also an honor system and the sign asks for the mason jars to be returned ‘when the flowers die’!! Just had to tell you : )
    I would love to buy notecards of your photos of chickens, peacocks, flowers, seasons, etc….I have used a wonderful internet printer, ‘Got Print,’ for postcards and notecards for my books (envelopes are not included, need to be bought separately), but I have used for promotion and not for sale, so not sure if the economics would work. If not doable as an online order, adding to your farm stand offerings would be fun and very appealing : )

    Here’s to the gals whose passion is their work, and yes, it deserves to be profitable!!
    Debbie
    PS I will enclose some samples of the print quality…postcards and a bookmark : )

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    1. Debbie – Thank you for your kind words about the photography. I actually have cards with my photos that I have offered and sold in the past – they are not professional quality – but I think they are still nice. Thank you for the contact information, I will check into them.

      I look forward to receiving the book, actually – Charles and I both look forward to reading it.

      Thank you for being so supportive! xo kim

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  7. Loved all the history and suggestions Debra offered. Kudos to her! I thought your flowers were beautiful. The chickens, too. Can’t help it. I like chickens. When you get your flower & egg building, make sure it is very open so that women will not be afraid to go inside. Bubba calls me paranoid…

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    1. Oh Linda you always make me laugh. I don’t want anybody to be SCARED while they are here. Although our house has spirits – just sayin’. Debra always shares such lovely thoughts and I too loved hearing her story of working with the flowers. Glad you gave me some building advice! xo kim

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  8. I so enjoyed this and love that you have a little farm stand out front. I have one too and finding what people like is sometimes difficult so just keep trying. Your flowers are beautiful you may want to drop off some cut flowers for florists in your area. Let them try them and then chat to see if they may be interested in purchasing on a regular basis. With the mason jars – use the word “recycle” and say when returned receive a discount on your next bouquet; that may entice excitement. Sometimes you just have to tweak a great idea. I sell plants and signs at my stand and plan to add some birdhouses in the next couple of weeks as I don’ t have anything growing right now. Wrapped flowers are a great idea – People love grab and go and the opportunity to get more for their money. Have a fun day a couple times a month where they can choose the flowers and you wrap while they wait. Gives you an opportunity to meet your customers and ask questions. I have an article coming out in the new Grit magazine about Farm Markets – geared towards towards making the right sign to attract customers. There is a few images of my small self serve stand. Sharing that magazine on my blog this week. I know this is a long comment but I want to encourage you to own what you’re doing I really love that ownership of “I’m a backyard chicken and flower farmer” What you’re doing is setting an example of goodness because everything begins at home and this is fantastic!!
    This post just made my morning!!

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    1. Carole – you just made my day! Thank you for sharing some ideas and suggestions. I look forward to seeing the article about the signage. Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into your comment and encouraging me so kindly – it is truly appreciated. xo kim

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  9. Hey there-I just had to come back because this is so much a part of my history and my heart….I didn’t make fancy bunches either-the flowers spoke for themselves! I wanted to tell you a few other things I did that may give you ideas-I let a huge group of nice people come and cut their own flowers for a wedding. They cut into the 5 gallon buckets, and each bucket was 20$. You DO have to be careful about insurance when you have people on your property-but state laws can be different-but please look it up even for your stand-you don’t want some awful thing happening…..I also went to a few local florists-but they didn’t want to pay much-so that didn’t work for me.
    I think the most wonderful thing about this is that it truly is a work of art from the heart-your time, sweat, love, passion all get put out there for the world to see.
    You’ll do great!!! I think you know you’ve got some loyal supporters here who are cheering you on!!!! Yaaay!

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    1. Hi Debra – thank you for coming back and sharing some more great ideas. I had thought about doing cut your own type thing once a month or so. I was discouraged by several people from doing this. Perhaps a more controlled – only the wedding party type thing. That really would make my day if someone thought my flowers were pretty enough to grace their special day. I do appreciate the support – even from afar. Funny thing how supportive my artist friends are that are scattered all across the country – yet local not so much. I treasure your input. Thank you. xo kim

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    1. Hi Kathi – I too hope the community opens their arms to my flowers this growing season. It would make my heart happy. I think I am going to come up with some sort of wrapped flowers and maybe some other options too.

      Thank you for featuring this post on Simple Homestead Blog hop – what an honor.
      Xo kim

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  10. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the watchout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future…

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