Friends supporting, making friends

Published on Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:39 - Written by Beth Walker, Guest Columnist

It seems that in any business or in life in general, people first share their knowledge, products or services with their friends.

In the movie-television-entertainment business, most first use their friends, and friends tell their friends.

Everyone grows and shares and so on. Word of mouth seems to be the best advertising. Everyone loves hearing a good recommendation. Now. with social media, you can put out there what you are looking for and get lots of advice or recommendations. Friends supporting friends.

Most of you know how I got started with my business, Beth’s Little Farm Market. The name came from another of my businesses in the Grapevine area, Beth’s Little Horse Farm in Texas. There, we worked with children ages 3 through 9, using miniature horse and a few ponies.

We moved to East Texas in 2007 and started an herb farm.

Three years ago there was a rumor that Lindale would have a farmer’s market.

My husband, Terry, and I decided to enlarge our already big garden to raise more produce to sell.

But come May, progress on the market stalled.

So, here I was with way more produce than we could use or share.

A good friend, Kathy Brunson, who owns the Texas Rose Horse Park, came up with a solution. Kathy owns the old Stucky’s building at Highway 110 and Interstate 20. The city had told her a few months earlier that she needed to either repair the roof or demolish the building. They put on a beautiful standing seam steel roof, repainted with white primer, left the building on the market and told me to just use the building.

It was perfect for the first Beth’s Little Farm Market. Friends supporting friends.

Another friend, Lori Hays with Texas Tees, a sign-making and T-shirt business, made a banner for us. Then all my theater friends came out for the wonderful produce! Friends supporting friends.

My friends told their friends, who told their friends, who told their friends, and on and on.

Our supporters got some wonderful homegrown, specialty produce, and we paid for the seed and supplies. My yoga class friends came out to the market. And neighbors and family came, and we all enjoyed farm-fresh stuff.

I have gardened everywhere I live, whether in a pot or in the ground. I also read lots of gardening books, majored in horticulture and even taught “Herbology” in Dallas.

One of my two favorites is “Organic Gardening” by Rodale Press and “Mother Earth News.”

I was reading Mother Earth News one early winter and saw an ad for a three-day fair in Pennsylvania. The article said that Ed Bagley, Jr. was going to be keynote speaker. He has been a hero of mine for years.

The September fair included workshops on subjects from garlic to honeybees.

My husband was all for going, too. My nephew, Tyler Cullender, was slated to graduate from Cornell in June with his doctorate in microbiology. I just mentioned to him about the fair in Pennsylvania and asked him if he knew about Mother Earth News. He said he just discovered the publication and couldn’t get enough.

My son, Lane Joseph, wanted to go, too. We started making plans. The fair fell on Tyler’s birthday, which was a lot of fun. The fact that there were four of us attending made it better to cover all the workshops, because we could spread out and each go to a different class. Needless to say, the fair was a huge success!

That trip is almost another story in itself. The reason I am getting into the fair is because the evening before the first day of the fair is when Tyler expressed his wish to “garden with us.” I was delighted!

Dr. Tyler Cullender moved to Lindale in November and has been the sustaining influence in Beth’s Little Farm Market. His experiences have been invaluable to our market here in Texas. Friends supporting friends.

Then we got an opportunity to go to Japan to learn their ways of farming and fermentation.

Tyler met another Beth at Mountain Dell Farm whose husband is from Japan. This Beth suggested Tyler come to an organic farm in Japan to learn their ways of farming as well as fermentation.

Tyler spent almost two months there with a family at their farm on the Southern island of Kyushu near the city of Kumamoto.

Lane and I went and had the trip of a lifetime, joining Tyler for the last week on the farm and adding another week to see Kyoto and Osaka.

Tyler brought back cultures to make our own fertilizers and learned how to make soy sauce, sake and many other traditional Japanese foods and skills. We brought back ingenious gardening tools and supplies and learned valuable lessons. Friends supporting friends.

Back in Texas, a buyer recently emerged for the old Stucky’s building at a time we had tripled the space in the pasture. All the seedlings were started, and everything was in place for a hugely successful farmers market.

But the recent ice storm killed all the nectarines, plums, peaches and beets. Everything else was set back, but alive. And we needed a place for our market.

A friend, Darla, has a business facing Main Street. Darla asked me about the garden and market, and I expressed our need for a market location.

She noted that on Saturday mornings, she gets a lot of walk-in traffic, with folks wondering what she has to sell. She carries her own line of sauces for her catering and has them on display. She suggested that I come downtown on Saturday mornings to sell our produce! Friends supporting friends.

Having Darla’s location for Beth’s Little Farm Market was so exciting! But the parking was inadequate.

The Lindale Community Theater just happens to have a concrete loading dock and lots of parking behind its building. I presented my situation to the theater board with a request to park the truck (with watermelons, cantaloupe, & other heavy big produce) next to the loading dock. I got board approval and now will be located at The Lindale Community Theater and The Fatt Apple on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friends supporting friends!

Do ya’ll remember the Mt. Sylvan Coffee House on Highway110?

My friend and the owner, Denise Warren, still owns the building, but she has moved to California. It was always her dream to have a market next to her coffee shop. She had a beautiful pavilion built with just that in mind. I approached her about doing our market there on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and we are going to be there beginning Tuesday! Friends supporting friends.

Community Supported Agriculture is huge nationwide as folks realize the importance of healthy, local produce. We sold our first shares to friends.

They are telling their friends, and so it goes: Friends supporting friends and making new friends!

Beth Walker is a Lindale resident. Want to write a YES! column? Just send it to yes@tylerpaper.com!