Sunday Brunch on the Farm
NOTE: Greentree Naturals Is No Longer Offering Sunday Brunch on the Farm
We have decided to leave the archive of this wonderful event here for other farmers to get some ideas of things they can do to diversify their operation. We have found that hosting on-farm community events has been an asset to Greentree Naturals sustainability. The rewards for having these kinds of activities are significant for building relationships with our local community.
We chose to have a Sunday Brunch on the Farm because this was the only day of the week that we didn't have filled up with something else. Sunday was also our only day off, so we gave up our day of rest to host an event every other Sunday. With a small farm operation such as ours, we simply cannot afford to hire employees, haven’t figured out a way to clone ourselves, and refuse to have on-farm events unless we can make it the best that we have to offer. We found that it was simply too much work for the income that we made from hosting this event.
We started out charging $25/per person the first year, then went up to $35/per person the second year. When we looked at the bottom line, we still were making less than minimum wage by the time we paid the chef. What we learned was that for success for something like this, you've got to figure costs and calculate it out to a point of being able to make it a worthwhile venture. We could have increased the price again, but didn't. The fact that we couldn't make any money at it doesn't mean that you can't. Just be sure to dig deep in the economics of it first, figure out as many details and costs that you can, including liability insurance and impact of having the public on the farm.
We had 258 guests for Sunday Brunch on the Farm in 2004- 2005- 2006. The response we received from the community was remarkably supportive, and people still talk about it years after the event ended and often ask when will we do it again. While we felt this affair was very much a success, we discovered that running a fully engaged farm and attempting to include such extracurricular activities as a bi-monthly Sunday Brunch was more that we could physically endure.
That said, in 2007 we shifted gears and hosted a once-a-month Sunday Afternoon Delightfully Decadent High Tea, and did this for three years as well. Three years is sort of the rule for determining if it's going to work or not. This downsized from the Sunday Brunch by minimizing the food to a more simple faire, and included a decadent double chocolate cake that was one of Chef Sora's specialties. We paid a local musician, Cathy O'Leary, to serenade our guests, which she did well on a number of different instruments. While this was also well attended, even with less frequency of events, full-time farming and hosting such events was just too much for us, so we let it go.
We continue to host farm tours and educational events on the farm, but no longer have Sunday Brunch on the Farm or the High Tea. I often joke and tell my students that being a farmer means only having to work half time; that's 12 hours in 24, and 7 days a week. Making a living farming is all consuming. If you try to do too much, then you don't do anything really well. I think it's important to clearly assess whether you should host an event like a Sunday Brunch, sketch out realistic costs and time investment before committing to a regularly scheduled even. Just how much can you do?
People love coming to the farm and eating freshly harvested food. Hosting an on-farm event gives people a connection to something that is very grounded. If you are hosting events on the farm, you need to be very conscious of health food regulations and liability issues that may be associated with having the public come onto your land. We have a conversation with our insurance agent every year to discuss how many people are going to be here walking around.
I believe that having events like this on the farm are important for getting the word out to our community about the importance of supporting local farmers. It's good for people to come out to the farm and see where their food is actually being grown. We continue to have farm tours and special events at Greentree Naturals. Be sure to visit our "What's Happening on the Farm" page for seasonal on-farm events!
Information about 2004 and 2005 Brunches
Diane Green and culinary artist, Sora Huff came together for a truly collaborative event in a unique and peaceful farm setting. Food at Greentree Naturals is always fresh from the gardens and exceptional!
Each event presented a tour of the farm, a delectable brunch based on the freshest produce from our gardens, and an unforgettable experience of the spirit and the abundance of the bountiful gardens at Greentree Naturals
A little history......
Sora Huff started baking bread at her grandmother's side at the age of three. Cooking has remained a passion ever since. She certified as Chef through the Apprenticeship program of the American Culinary Federation in the 70's when few women were found in the professional kitchens. She spent six years cooking in world class restaurants in Aspen, Colorado. Relocating to the Pacific NW, she designed and developed an Organic kitchen and vocational cooking program for Rocky Mountain Academy, which included an acre organic garden and training in food preservation.
Sora was chef at the Hawkins House in Bonners Ferry and helped design and develop the kitchen at the Kootenai River Inn. She is currently a Market Farmer and Co-manager of the Boundary County Farmers Market where she distributes Paradise Valley Organics, her line of organic baked goods and farm products.
Diane and Sora have been dear friends for long enough to consider each other a part of the family. We came up with the idea of creating a Sunday Brunch on the farm because we wanted to share the experience of fresh food with others. This was really the only day that we could manage this event around everything else that we have on-going. We are a working farm, so adding this event was not exactly easy to schedule around harvesting, farmers markets, workshops and deliveries. Simply, Sunday was the only day we had free to do something else!
Sponsored by Rural Roots BUY FRESH BUY LOCAL CAMPAIGN - Rural Roots is a regional food and farming non-profit organization. Rural Roots members receive 10% discount! For more information about Rural Roots, visit their website at www.ruralroots.org
For a review of 2004 Sunday Brunch written by former food editor of the Spokesman Review Newspaper, please visit News Stories and Press on our website!
Letter from 2004 Brunch Attendees
Here is the text from a wonderful letter Paul and Alice Blume wrote to us after attending our very first Brunch of the 2004 season.
Dear Diane, Thom, Sora & Linsay too,
Thank you again for an unforgettable Experience we shall treasure forever–(and especially thank you again for accommodating Paul’s allergy needs.) Your thoughtfulness as well as your inspirational tour & of course delectable Brunch was so special for us. We will aspire to follow your teachings. Your charismatic personality has already made a strong impact on our life-style. We would LOVE to have Sora’s ‘spinach spanokopita recipe–(Does she have a cookbook in print?)-We also would love to have the opportunity to buy a garlic braid or two. Perhaps you could let us know when and how to acquire one when the season is in. Thanks again,
Very fondly, Alice & Paul Blume
Paul & Alice Blume.
Apprentice helpers Linsay and Alicia
Dining on the deck overlooking the gardens.
Garden tour after brunch