I had a customer the other day comment that we had an unusual range of products for a sheep farm, and she is probably right! While we are a sheep farm, we are at the market with garlic and sunflowers front and center. Part of the reason for this is because the period that it makes sense to be at the market outdoors (when the weather is nice) is not the time period where we have lamb for sale. So, while we are there talking about lamb and taking pre-orders, what you see in our booth is the garlic, sunflowers and wool.
The garlic makes sense only if you know that my parents brought the first garlic we planted here from their previous farm, on which they operated a market garden. The reason for bringing the garlic north was actually for the lamb – we were already talking about making lamb sausage back then and we knew garlic would be a major ingredient in most recipes. Since Mom and Dad (Beverly and Bryan) have lots of experience growing garlic successfully it made sense to plant more than we could use. Last year, we sold the majority of the excess to Belluz, but this year we wanted to broaden our customer base for lamb, which meant we needed products to take to the market.
This was also an opening for me to start a cut flower garden. My wanting to become a “flower-farmer” pre-dates my start as a sheep farmer. I love flowers and have always had extensive gardens. At the farm, I have plans for several gardens in the works. Adding cut flowers to our farm was something I thought might happen down the road, but the need for us to have things to take to market accelerated the plan. After some research and advice from other farmers, I decided to start with sunflowers. They are basically the easiest cut flower to grow, and they would be ready about the same time as the cured garlic.
We have so many ideas for products in relation to our sheep and garlic, that I think as our booth fills it will start to become a bit more cohesive. But maybe it doesn’t really matter. There are four of us here with a variety of interests, and when we are thinking of what to create it is always from the perspective of what we need and like. I love to have fresh flowers in my home, I believe garlic and lamb go together, and wool is a staple fibre in my winter wardrobe. Hopefully you feel the same! :)
Our outside booth at the Thunder Bay Country Market.