This winter has been unseasonably warmish, and my winter wardrobe hasn’t gotten the workout it normally receives in January. Couple that with the arrival of the new Seed Saver’s Exchange catalogue, and I officially have Spring Garden Fever.
When garden fever hit me last year, I was at a loss as to things to plant I could actually preserve and sent out a plea on Facebook. This week’s Small Business Saturday feature was quick to come to my rescue! I got a group of girlfriends together and took her Canning 101 class she hosts on her family farm and learned SO MUCH about growing and preserving good food.Stacy De Smet is a “farmpreneur” who is equally at home in her garden or in the boardroom. After founding Synectics, a marketing & branding agency in 2003, Stacy served as Director of Outreach for NASA’s Space Product Development office. She is also currently a frequent speaker with the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama, on the board of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, provides consulting and mentoring to small start-ups, and served as a marketing consultant to BizTech and other local organizations. AND she’s Mom to two great kids, Alice and Ben.
So, in a nutshell, if you’re a small business owner Stacy is a pretty good person to know.
But one of this superwoman’s primary businesses these days is Misty Ridge Stables & Farm in Taft, Tennessee – just a quick skip up Highway 53.
Tell us about Misty Ridge Farm’s origins.
Misty Ridge Stables was created, in the beginning, simply as a means to draw some income off the farm by boarding horses and offering a bed-and-breakfast targeted to those that travel with horses. Around the same time, I had bought a flock of laying hens primarily for the education of my children…but then became so overwhelmed with the 10-12 eggs per day I decided to sell the extra eggs. In doing so, I quickly found a market for fresh, organic eggs, as well as produce. I’ve played with the idea of starting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership for a few years, and 2012 will see the first full-blown CSA program offered.
What is your mission?
Our slogan is “Home grown simplicity with a family focus” – and that really is what we’re all about. We live on our farm, so what happens on the farm must work with our family schedule, and it is important to me to involve the children in all aspects. It’s not uncommon for the children to help plant and harvest. This year we will also feature a Girl Scout Garden that my daughter’s Brownie troop will be planning and planting.
Who do you serve?
We serve folks who, basically, want to make healthier choices in their eating habits for themselves and their families. Although the farm is not “certified” (a lengthy and expensive process), we utilize organic and natural methods in our entire process. When you receive produce or eggs, they’ve been harvested THAT day. The combination of fresh and all-natural is a very desirable for the health-conscious individual/family. Historically, most of our customers have been moms, but I’ve seen more and more men inquire about our offerings, to even include our classes!
What special classes are you hosting on the farm this year?
We have a number of classes on tap: our month-by-month gardening classes, and our popular canning series. We’re also introducing the CSA memberships this year as well. Be sure to check out our Facebook page or website for up-to-date information on classes or other offerings!
As a consultant to other small business owners, what is your advice to readers who might be interested in hanging a shingle themselves?
Over the last 9 years, I’ve successfully launched 3 different businesses, to include the farm and I regularly speak on this topic at the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama. My number one piece of advice is to HAVE A PLAN! I see many times that new business owners simply want to ‘start a business’ but don’t know where they want to take it, or what to do after making the decision to start. Having a plan will make this process less scary. Once you have a plan, STAY FOCUSED! As a small business owner, you’re constantly bombarded with decisions and countless issues…by staying focused on your plan, making these decisions won’t seem so overwhelming. Of course, there are many other things to take into account that could fill a book! But those are my top two pieces of advice.
I also have countless books to recommend on different facets of business ownership and would be happy to provide personal recommendations to readers. One book in particular that had tremendous impact in my life – and business – isn’t a ‘business book,’ but rather more of a motivational/inspirational book and that’s The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. I have found that changing my mindset and unleashing The Secret in my own life has opened up many, many opportunities.
To learn more about Stacy and Misty Ridge Stables & Farm, visit www.mistyridgestables.com or find them on Facebook. You’ll also be reading more of Stacy’s gardening and locavore advice, as she is one of our newest contributors here at Rocket City Mom.
NOTE: Be sure to enter below to win a FREE class at the farm that will teach you all about local gardening, canning, and even a little urban farming – a $50 value!
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.