We had an absolute blast putting together this post and hope it kicks off your weekend with goodness and inspiration, just like it has for us.
Also, keep in mind that weekends are a perfect time to make a stop at your local farmers' market or farmstand and stock up on some fresh goods!
And, one more thing, can we just say that we are swooning over the idea of the #justonething campaign that Wensleydale Cottage Farm is doing? (L-O-V-E it!)
SVHC: How long have you been producing or growing in Cortland County?
WF: We moved to the Cortland area in 2012 and started with livestock in 2013. Last year we purchased a bigger farm with a sugarbush in Homer so we were able to add Maple Syrup to our offerings as well as increasing the number of animals we have. Although we aren't certified organic, all of our farm products are organically raised and we are very proud of that.
SVHC: Growing food or producing food products cannot be an easy task to take on, why engage in this type of lifestyle?
WF: We moved with our children from England back to New York where I grew up. When we started grocery shopping here we noticed there were a lot more additives and in particular a lot more sugar in all the basic food goods. Things like bread, yoghurt, and even baby food snacks had a ton of sugar added, and lots of foods were really processed. Because we were living on a little farm in Virgil, we decided to start growing and making some of our own food, and we also bought some chickens so we had fresh eggs to bake with! Soon the chickens were producing more eggs than we could use, so we started selling them to friends and neighbors. Then we bought a couple cows for milk and meat. And then pigs for pork. We shared and sold any excess we had of meat and produce to our friends, and they told their friends, who wanted access to fresh local food too. So things just grew and grew! I think the most amazing thing about our whole experience with starting and growing our farm has been the network of experienced farmers willing to help. We have such a great community in this area of people who really love to help others become good stewards of the land. Connecting with other dedicated people and learning from their experiences has been incredible!
SVHC: What products or goods do you make or grow?
WF: Our primary goods are: Eggs, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Pork, and Maple Syrup (because who doesn't like maple bacon?!). We also have produce available from time to time, make beeswax goods like lip balm and lotion, and teach cheesemaking classes occasionally. In the past our pork has been available only on the hoof (a whole or half animal), but we are probably going to be able to offer USDA butchered cuts this year, too.
SVHC: What has been your biggest joy as a local grower and producer?
WF: There's so much I love about farming! We have three boys and they are learning skills they can't get anywhere else by being part of our farm family. They each have their own little business; my 11-year-old raises the chickens and sells the eggs, and my 9-year-old keeps the ducks. And our toddler is just in love with all the animals: the first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning is ask to go see the "bock bocks" or the pigs. We also love sharing the food we enjoy and have worked so hard to raise, with our community. Education is also a big part of our mission: we've done school presentations and mentor other people looking to raise animals. Connecting people with where their food comes from, helping to create a positive food culture, and making great food accessible to everyone, is really important to us.
SVHC: What has been the greatest challenge for Wensleydale Cottage Farm?
WF: I think mother nature is our greatest challenge. Weather, soil management, predators; everything is so connected. All our animals are on pasture which is wonderful for them but can be a challenge for us. I keep saying I will write a book someday about all the crazy adventures we've had chasing escaped pigs, finding lost ducklings, and chasing cows out of the chicken coop!
SVHC: If you could tell your community one thing, what would it be?
WF: Buying food directly from your local producer isn't just some trendy thing to do for fun if you have extra money. It can be affordable and a good value! Your purchases feed your farmer's family and put money back into the local economy. This year we have started a #justonething campaign, to show people different ways to change just one thing about the way they consume food so that they can support a local farmer.
SVHC: How can the community purchase your goods or connect with you?
WF: We have a seasonal roadside stand open from the end of June (in time for the route 41 sale) on route 41 in Scott, and you can also visit our website to see what we have available, or our Facebook page. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!