Thursday, July 19, 2012

From the Ground Up

"From the Ground Up".....not only does it describe the name of the business Verona & Shelle created earlier this year, but it also seems to describe the ladies themselves.   Friends since 1992 through playing softball, they hit it off and now run their business together producing meat rubs, marmalade, jellies, preserves, natural body scrubs, aprons and fresh herbs.

Verona & Shelle
After her kids graduated high school, Verona put herself through culinary school.  While doing so, she fell in love with herbs.  She told me that although she grew up in a farming family and had a garden at the age of 5, growing herbs really wasn't something they did.   Luckily, she has a VERY, green thumb and today grows up to 65 different varieties of herbs!  

Shelle, a stay-at-home Mom, enjoys teaching her daughter, Grace, about foods, cooking and gardening.  Verona approached her about starting the business and trying out the Farmers Market this year.  Shelle said she thought a day out of the house once a week would be something to look forward to.  Verona said Shelle makes everything looks "pretty" for selling.  It's obvious as you approach their booth...vintage tablecloths, delicate baskets and flowery labels on the jars make it very inviting.
Details make the difference

The ladies told me they work to find the freshest ingredients for their products.  When asked about the funniest thing that they've done during the creation of their business, Shelle said it was probably when they were laying out their garden.  They decided on square foot gardening, so she got out the tape measure, tent stakes, string and went to work! 

Early Beginnings of their Garden

Don't look for the ladies to slow down anytime soon.  They have a vision to create a tourist attraction of different styles of gardens.  A place where children could learn about planting, gardening, harvesting and crop rotation.  As Verona described this idea to me, I could see her excitement about teaching future generations everything she has learned and will continue to learn. 

Stop by and try a body scrub next week


 So, blog followers, I have an assignment for you.  When you stop and see Verona & Shelle next week, ask them what the herb "Borage" was used for in ancient Rome! I bet you'll be surprised. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Memories of Grandma

This has got to be a World Record zucchini, don't ya think?

Located in Rayville, Missouri, the Stockton's named their farm, Ida Belle Farms after Bobby's grandmother.  This is their first year with the Gladstone Market.  I've had a great time getting to know Bobby & Liz Stockton this year at the market, so I couldn't wait to visit them at their farm. 

Ida Belle Farms
Coming upon Rayville around lunchtime, I was thinking of all the cute diners I would probably find.  Dreaming of a big homemade BLT or a plate of fried chicken, I passed the sign that said, "Rayville: Population 223."  I turned left and saw the American Flag in front of the Post Office, passed by a couple of houses and then I was heading out of town again!  My co-pilot said, "I don't think we're eating here."  This was one small town, I thought!  Definately no where to run when you forgot to get enough sugar for the cookies you started making.  We turned our thoughts off of food and started looking for Ida Belle Farms. 

It was easy enough to find.  About two blocks off the main street, we found a quaint, blue farmhouse. Liz graciously greeted me and my co-worker.  As we started towards the garden, here comes Bobby who had been eating lunch. 

She toured me through her, neat, tidy garden spreading out before us.
Stockings hold the cabbage center together
Everything was blooming and growing and I just looked at her and said, "Liz, how do you guys do it?  How do you keep up?"  She said Bobby works the garden, while she works a full-time job through the week.  On her days off, she tends to the garden and they attend the market.  She said, like many farmers, that she can't count the hourly wage; she just enjoys doing it.  As we walk by a plastic, children's swimming pool, she  smiles and adds, "It's something we can do with our grandkids." 

Tomatoes came on early this year
Just like anyone this year, they are spending a lot of time and money on watering.  An irrigation system installed earlier this year makes watering faster and more productive, but Liz must estimate and plan for higher water bills.

Ida Belle Farms has a greenhouse where Bobby and Liz grow flowers in the springtime.  Plans are underway to construct a high tunnel in the fall allowing them to start plants earlier.

Bobby and Liz enjoy giving back to the community.  They have signed up with the Society of St. Andrew to pick up excess produce from Ida Belle Farms at the end of the market day or glean their fields to donate to local food pantries.  Liz has worked to make this available to all the vendors at the market. 

The next time you're at the market, take a moment to talk with Bobby and Liz.  Liz also posts on her Facebook page at  Thank them for making the drive down each week into our community and into our hearts!