We are growing at Willows Bend Farm! Since the last time we posted in the "Whats New" section of our website, www.willowsbendfarm.com there has been some exciting happenings! Listening to the needs and wants of our community, we are in the process of constructing a brand new building that will become our bigger, better Emporium, Certified Kitchen and Education Center.
Focusing on low waste and minimizing cost of packaging, the Emporium's bulk organic herbs, spices, teas and coffees will be mostly self-serve. You are encouraged to bring your own clean containers but we will have free zip top baggies available. Customers will also have the option to purchase our heavier mylar zip top pouches, glass or metal containers, or order something special. There will always be someone there to help you with your selections or answer any questions.
Our collection of nearly 100 different therapeutic grade essential oils and blends will have their own alphabetized section in the Aromatherapy section of the Emporium. We will also have room for incense, crystals and minerals and other more esoteric items.
Perhaps the most exciting change is the addition of a certified kitchen! This will enable us to provide the community with ready to go, whole foods, made with love from local ingredients whenever possible.
The plan is to have three soups daily that can be purchased either hot, refrigerated, or frozen. A staple will be Alisa's Chicken Soup, chocked full of herbal goodness. There is nothing more comforting or nourishing than home made chicken soup, but when you are feeling like you need some, you rarely feel like making it from scratch. Willows Bend Farm is here to help! Some sort of chili will also me ready as well as a vegetarian selection each day. With Winter coming, how nice will it be to stop by and pick up some really good soup?
Also from our kitchen there will be ready to buy dips made fresh from our herb dip mixes and selections of other place-to-order foods prepared by a variety of folks from our community who have expressed an interest to being a part of our desire to bring more convenient goodness to you.
Among those who wish to take part in the deliciousness are the Dinwiddie High School Culinary Arts students, retired chefs, and other talented people who know how to bring nutrition and comfort food to you, These chefs will be featured as our "What's Cookin" guest cooks & you'll be able to have the pleasure of ordering whatever they prepare that day, by noon, for dinner-time pickup.
Our ingredients, meat, produce, dairy and herbs will come from local farmers whenever possible to highlight our belief that farm-to-table is vital to supporting local farms and nourishing the community. I can't wait for Richlands Dairy to open their creamery so we can have their ice cream available for purchase here!
So many people are interested in learning how to cook real food that we will be offering classes may in basic cooking skills, baking, canning, preserving, and more.
The kitchen can also be rented by other producers to make salsas, jams, baked goods or any other value added products. This will enable the producers to expand their market by being able to sell both retail and wholesale.
Our research library will be a comfy place to come, sit and relax and have a cup of coffee or tea while you feed your craving of knowledge - Books on herbalism, essential oils and aromatherapy, gardening, sustainable living, and cook books will all be available for browsing in the Emporium and Alisa's favorite titles will be available for purchase.
The new Emporium and Kitchen will be a community gathering place - a healing atmosphere- where all feel welcome. We encourage people of all abilities to come take a shift in the store in exchange for products or classes. With many volunteers we can extend the hours which we will be open. Right now, we hope to be open from 7 am (that morning coffee awaits) until 9 pm.
We will offer both daytime and evening classes on herbs, essential oils and aromatherapy. Home Arts classes will include sewing, needlework and fiber arts like spinning and felting. And we will still have our fun Tea & Paint sessions. (Painting easels and paints are always available for independent use outside)
We encourage you to give us your thoughts, suggestions and feelings on what you'd like to see happen here at Willows Bend Farm. We are here for you,because of you an with you! We are so pleased to serve our local community in bigger and better ways and we appreciate our ever-growing web-based family of folks who want to live cleaner, live healthier, and live happier.
We have several styles of lovely gift baskets to choose from. Since you can customize them, they make a beautiful and thoughtful gift for everyone on your list this year. Please contact us with questions and pricing as we continue to build our website.
We had a great time at the Dinwiddie County Fair in September, now it is on to more fall festivals!
October 14th, Jessica and I (Alisa) will be vending at The Taste of Brunswick Festival and Stew Cook Off.
Look for the blue double tent. Jessica and I will have plenty of great deals so be sure to stop by on your way to tasting some authentic Brunswick Stew.
Meanwhile, Keith will be vending at The Petersburg Trading Fall Festival on the north end of Boydton Plank road here in Dinwiddie, instead of the River Street Market in Petersburg where he usually can be found on a Saturday. Stop by and say hello!
Sanford will skip the regular market at Magnolia Green and stay at home for customers at the Emporium. In addition, we are having a yard sale Friday and Saturday. There will be clothes, some tools, extension cords, and all sorts of neat stuff. Stop in, find a treasure at a bargain price.
The next special event on the schedule is The Pecan Festival at Richard Bland College. This was such a wonderful event last year on its inaugural, that they are extending the fun for 2 days, both Saturday, October 28th and Sunday, October 29th. Be sure to stop by to see us.
In other news...many of you know we plan to construct a 1,000 square foot building in front of the greenhouse that will be our new retail space, education center and certified kitchen. We are super excited this will become a reality in the near future. I met with the VDACS inspector who approved my design for the commercial kitchen. Once completed, we will be making ready made food for purchase, renting the space to other folks who want to be able to sell their value added products, and we will be offering cooking and baking classes as well. Included in our ready to eat foods will be our sought after dips, healthy chicken soup with immunity boosting herbs, freshly baked bread and we are considering the idea of offering "What's Cooking Today?" which will make available whatever we will be making for supper using the finest local ingredients whenever possible. Folks would place their order in the morning, or perhaps we will have the whole week's menu from which to choose. Meals would be ready for pick up on the way home from work.
The retail space will be handicap accessible, low waste, mostly self serve. The idea is to bring your own containers, tare them out on the scale and select and fill from the over 200 organic and wild crafted herbs we offer. We will feature a few different varieties of Equal Exchange Fair Trade Organic Coffee, always to include our favorite Love Buzz, and expand our tea selection as well. Zip top bags will be free, but there will be other container options for purchase if you don't bring your own or want something special. We will have some prepackaged items as well for a quick on-the-go purchase or for gift giving.
Of course we will have all of our favorites in essential oils and aromatherapy and will have room to expand our selection, add a section to showcase local artisans, add some more esoteric items like minerals and crystals, Himalayan Pink Salt items, and have a larger variety of incense and smudging bundles.
Our retail space will double as our education center with friends having access to my research library as well as having a selection of books for purchase. Have a cup of our premium organic coffee while reading or just relaxing. We will be offering classes in essential oils and aromatherapy, herbs, crafting workshops and classes on the home arts like sewing and other needlework.
With all this going on, our hours will be expanded. Our plan, if we can get enough help, is to be open from
7 am until 9 pm. When will all this goodness be happening? Well, we just submitted the septic system design for our kitchen and handicap accessible restroom. Once we get that permit, construction will begin on the installation of the system, then the cement slab will be poured and we can then get to work raising the steel arch building and framing in the inside. Volunteers are welcome and we will keep you informed as our timetable becomes clear. My very ambitious goal is to be completed by Thanksgiving, but that all depends on other people's schedules (ground work, plumbing, electrical, foundation, framing etc.) Perhaps a more realistic goal is to have the shell raising on or near Thanksgiving. We shall see!
As always we treasure our customer/friends. We absolutely need your support to accomplish this ambitious but much needed project. Spread the word! Come and visit!
Keep up with us on our Willows Bend Farm page on Facebook, and "friend" me on my personal page Alisa Strunk.