Treat family and friends with these farm-made holiday gifts
As part of our Made On the Farm series, we’ve been presenting quality, wholesome goods made right where they originate, on the farm.
There are plenty of entrepreneurs making things that make people happy, with many made on a farmstead. We urge you to look into these products, along with others that you can find on etsy.com and other online sources that put dollars directly into the hands of those farmers who make them.
Here are a few for your consideration.
Boxler Maple Farms
On a chilly winter morning, what warms you better than a stack of pancakes literally dripping in real maple syrup? That sensual image alone is enough to get even the sleepiest teenager out of bed.
Yes, you could pick up something charitably called “pancake syrup” but we all know that is second best. At best.
Boxler Maple Farms, originally begun in 1928 is located in western New York state near the town of Varysburg, has 175 miles of tubing between maple trees in their sugarbush (the term for a mature grove of maple trees used for mapling) and their storage collection tanks.
After reducing the water-laden sap down to maple syrup down to the goodness that is maple syrup, it is ready for delicious consumption, according to company spokeswoman Nikki Boxler.
It’s a tough seasonal business—you do virtually all your hard work outside in the winter and spring when it’s cold and often snowing.
For years, the Boxlers sold wholesale to companies that repackage syrup for food service, restaurants, or food production. The recent addition of online sales has sparked ideas for future growth.
Boxler Maple Farms now sells online at boxlermaple.com. Currently, they have about a dozen separate products, including gift packs.
Non-maple syrup products like a fluffy pancake mix were developed by David’s Boxler daughter Tasha. Nikki Boxler explains that Tasha’s children love maple syrup any time of the day, and she developed the pancake mix to meet that need.
Best of all, Nikki says the new facility means production, storage, and bottling will all occur under one roof for better efficiency.
“Innovation is a necessity when it comes to farming,” she offers. “Innovation not only leads to better and more efficient ways to care for the environment while producing the highest quality products but it is also a way to ensure our family farms will be around for generations to come.”
Order your Christmas gift packs, syrups, and more at boxlermaple.com
Simple Goodness Sisters syrups
Two sisters with a love of gardening, outdoors, and—yes—consumption of fun alcoholic beverages, banded together to create cocktail mixing syrups from their home garden.
The journey involved leaving big-city jobs, getting married, and having babies. But still, sisters Venise and Belinda have taken a look at what they were producing for family and friends and realizing there was more to be done.
The result—almost all coming from their Washington State family farm-slash-garden—is an ever-changing selection of cocktail (and mocktail) syrups.
“On our farm we grow herbs, edible flowers, and vegetables,” Belinda says. “Many of our syrups are inspired by the abundance of the farm.”
The Simple Goodness Cocktail Farm has expanded into edible flowers, herbs and fruits to support syrup production. Belinda, the foodie of the pair, says new syrup recipes are influenced by what’s going on the farm. And it’s all about cocktails, whether made in the soda shop or at your home.
“The fact that we are picking up the produce right from the farm and bring it back to the kitchen to process it immediately is the secret to our syrups tasting fresh and bright all year long!”
Simple Goodness Sisters grows, harvests, and formulates syrups seasonally, usually in the summer.
The service provides unique “micro-batch” syrups in addition to regular 12-ounce bottles, cocktail garnishes grown on the farm, recipe cards, and video tutorials.
For more information:
Belinda Kelly and Venise Cunningham
Simple Goodness Sisters
Sonoma Wool Company
“It started with a love of the land, and all that it provides,” the website tells us. “Food, fiber, wildlife habitat, clean air, and water.”
Like many embarking on a farm-based business, Amy Chesnut found herself drawn to rural life and the values it held. With partner Joe Pozzi, the rolling hillsides of Sonoma County, Calif. helped spawn the idea of re-introducing wool products to the world.
Amy realized she had to help people “Re-Discover the Wonders of Wool” (and it’s now their company motto). Although humans have used wool for thousands of years in clothing, shelter, bedding and even for medicinal purposes, development of synthetics in the 20th Century drew people away from natural fibers.
Today, Amy’s Sonoma Wool Company offers some of the finest household and comfort products available for bedding, kitchen, home and laundry, and more. How about using wool’s natural breathability as a comfortable mattress topper? Or a wool pillow or comforter for chilly nights?
Kitchen products include the aforementioned Wool Dish Drying Mat, while home offerings include a Wool Ironing Board Pad or Pressing Pad, Wool Dryer Balls, and even Wool Shoe Insoles for shoes or slippers.
The Sonoma Wool Company offers dog and cat toys, and a wool “cat-mat” for finicky felines.
Shop the company offerings at sonomawoolcompany.com.
Hereward Farms Lavender
Julie Thurgood-Burnett’s fields at Hereward Farms outside East Garafraxa, Ontario, a rural commuter suburb near Toronto are a place to stop and take a deep, relaxing breath.
Julie uses the 6,000-plus lavender plants on the farm to make what she calls farm-to-skin boutique skincare products. The spa-quality personal care products are conceived, refined, and made right on her farm.
She offers farm-made products for your bath—body scrubs, bath salts, and soaps, for example—and your skin, including Pucker Up lip balm, body lotions, oils, and serums; and environmental additions like candles, diffusers, sachets, and pillow sprays.
Surprisingly, Julie’s products were developed during the pandemic, when Canada imposed a lockdown. A top-flight marketer, she was bored, and took a look at what she had around her at home. Lavender plants filled her otherwise empty farm fields.
“Lavender is a picky plant,” Julie tells us. “She hates wet feet, and she needs well-draining soil.”
‘I think the number one thing for me is how healing lavender is—to the mind and the body.’
And with that, the idea for higher-end, spa-quality products just seemed to be a natural goal: Lavender-infused salts and scrubs, aromatic oils for face and body, candles and diffuser oils, beard oil for men, and more.
In addition to the boutique, Hereward Farm is a Harvest Host RV destination.