Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Mom is Off the Beaten Path

This weekend is the Off the Beaten Path studio tour in Smithville, TN just outside of Nashville. My mother Claudia Lee is a papermaker and book artist and is part of this tour. You can read about her master/apprentice project that she just completed on her apprentice Jess's blog, Paper Apprentice.
My mother is a big part of how I started my business-from a respect for handmade, traditional crafts, how to sell at market, to being an entrepreneur and living a country life (I grew up in upper East Tennessee). She was just visiting me in Santa Fe and will be back to sell at the Winter Holiday Market at the Farmers Market on December 18-21. Come visit her and see her stunning, handmade paper necklaces and earrings.

Friday, October 22, 2010

“Pioneering Spirit, Integrity, Passion, Accountability, Excellence”

Today, my lotion bars will be serving as my ambassadors at the dedication of Accion New Mexico’s new, beautiful building in Albuquerque.

Accion New Mexico is a non profit that encourages new businesses with loan funds and other forms of business support. They were the first ones to provide funding for Milk and Honey, enabling me to begin the process of creating my line of custom molds and the branding and package development that has just come to completion. This is a picture of their stunning building, with their entry archway that reads, “Pioneering Spirit, Integrity, Passion, Accountability, Excellence.” What an incredible standard to live by.

Congratulations Accion--and thank you for your support!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Farmers Market Dresses Up

Folks, I have to tell you about Saturday night.

I attended the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute’s Annual Fall Fiesta fundraising gala, dolled up and accompanied by my (proud) mother, my friend Elyzabeth, and my aptly-named financial advisor, Rich. Not only were we clean and prettied-up, but our Farmers Market building was too--with colorful, festive lights strung from the ceiling, a live band playing gentle country music, and long formal dinner tables. There was a silent auction of goods ranging from handmade clay salad bowls, to organic 50lb sacks of goat feed, to gift baskets of soaps and lotions (of course)—with a mountain bike and dinners-for-two thrown into the mix as well.

We had a stunning dinner featuring local root veggies, lamb, polenta and over-the-top-rich mac & cheese, followed by local desserts—my favorite of which was a goat cheesecake. The food was prepared by a variety of local chefs.

Dinner was followed by a live auction that was so entertaining--dramatic and hilarious--I felt like I was at the theater. And let me just say right here that there was a lot of money flying around the room, and that our wonderful community truly loves and supports our market and its farmers. The live auction started with an auction of a dozen eggs--sold for $200!

The featured guests were Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson--read all about them if you can’t remember their incredible story. Somehow or other, they decided to relocate to our humble Southwest town, and now I was sitting just down the table from their gutsy-selves. Joe told a hysterical story about being attacked by a rooster when he was in Niger (you know, THAT Niger)—that laid him up for several days. He declared that farming was dangerous business, and he was grateful that we had such dedicated farmers to do this dangerous work on our behalf. The irony of this statement (his wife was an under-cover CIA operative, remember? And he took on the Bush administration single-handedly, to some serious consequences) was not lost on this audience. And Valerie is just as stunning in person as she was testifying before Congress.

Just after dessert was served (note: Rich did not try the goat cheesecake as he declared “I hate everything goat.” I’m sorry, what??? You’re fired!), the “heartfelt” part of the evening began, as Sarah Noss, Institute Director, hosted the Farmers Market All-Star Awards portion of the evening—our equivalent of the Oscars. Yours truly was the first award recipient, and I must say, I wasn’t prepared for the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the dedication—including a continuous slide show of images of me, my goats, my products, my farm, etc. Wow! It was truly an honor. I still feel like a newbie at the Market (and compared with two other award recipients I very much am). I was able to say a few words of thanks, and I let that crowd of donors and supporters know that my business wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the incredible entrepreneurial platform of the Santa Fe Farmers Market, one that encourages not only business growth in general, but a certain set of business values—local, fair, community-based, natural, real, connection with the land, with the seasons, with each other. These values provide a brilliant challenge for a business-one that pushes products to be better than what you find in the average market place. Thank you, Santa Fe Farmers Market.

My fellow Oscar—I mean All-Star winners were Tony and Helen Zamora of Zamora's Produce, who have been with the Market for like, 30 years, and Gary and Natasya Gundersen of Mr. G's Organic Produce. Gary, said, quotably, that "All the farmers at the Santa Fe Farmers Market are all-stars."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Beloved Male Customers-Now on Facebook

Friends, the "My Beloved Male Customers" series has been a wild success. It is now moving to my Facebook page, where I will have an ongoing photo gallery of these dedicated XY customers! Join me there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best idea ever--Goats Grazing on a Green Roof

Folks, I just heard on Living on Earth about a place in Wisconsin called Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant, whose remarkable feature is on their green roof, they graze their goats! They have goats on their roof! The goats do great up there, because they are natural climbers! I'm adding this to my list of fantasies for my future home--green roof (I've always loved this idea anyway) with access for the goats!

I wish I could find better pictures of the goats, (I guess they're working on it) but you can see a few at this page. In one of the pics, a little hard to make out, I can see that there is a goat just lying down on the peak of the roof. Wow.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thank You President Obama--and USDA Rural Development

Today I was a guest at the USDA's Rural Development year-end press conference. The press conference focused on the powerful effect that NM's Rural Development programs had on New Mexicans this year. As Terry Brunner, Director, stated, "Much of the funding that was obligated in 2010 came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those funds, combined with our regular funding, increased economic opportunity and improved the quality of life throughout rural New Mexico, even in these different economic times."

I was invited to be one of the living, breathing examples of the increased economic opportunity that this funding has created. Now, I love to attend events like this. I love to talk about my business, I love to meet interesting people. But this event humbled me.

I sat at the table next to the governor of the Pueblo of Laguna, John Antonio, Sr., who told stories about the third world conditions his pueblo has been living with in terms of water and septic services--they've just received funding to upgrade their water system. (And before the conference started, he told me the amazing story of being one of 30 Native Americans who were flown to the site of the World Trade Towers, just after 9/11, to participate in a major ceremony there.)

Lt. Governor Mark Thompson from the Pueblo of Laguna thanked Rural Development for funding a community wellness center--that he hopes will some day lead to the closure of the Pueblo's new dialysis clinic.

A lovely couple got up and spoke about the home they were able to purchase with a special loan fund--they are one of 11,400 families that received this kind access to funds.

And there were fellow Value Added Producer Grant recipients, Lynn & Judy Payne, who run Payne's Nurseries here in Santa Fe, and Sunland Nursery in Las Cruces. They have a wonderful product they are currently marketing--fresh organic cooking herbs, live in small pots, and packaged to grab off the shelf and take right home.

Folks, all this is to say, right now there is a lot of press covering people who are shouting that the stimulus funds were a mistake--a career-killing one for some politicians, and that big government needs to be stopped. And/or they are saying this funding hasn't worked, hasn't helped. The few of us in that conference today were just a handful of the thousands in this state alone, through this one state agency, that have benefited in life-changing ways from this support. I am proud to be one of them.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

All-Star Milkmaid meets CIA Spy

I am excited to report that at the annual Farmers Market Institute Fall Fiesta Gala on October 16, I and three other farmers will be honored as Farmers Market All-Stars!

In addition to being thrilled to get this award, I will be very well fed with all the amazing chef-prepared local food, I'll be able to shop for holiday gifts at the silent auction, and I will be rubbing shoulders with undercover CIA agents and high-level diplomats.


Our very own local CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson and her diplomat husband, Joe Wilson will be guests of honor. When they are not suing the Bush Administration, they are supporting the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

You can support too--buy a ticket, don your finest and come hungry!