At Handmade Hive, we LOVE finding new businesses and we LOVE introducing them to you. We’ve found some pretty neat businesses and products to share since the beginning of January and this week, we’re introducing you to Orlan and Chastity Mays of Gift of Love Charity & Mustard Seed Sowers Urban Farm.
A Gift of Love Charity is a non-profit organization that started in 2005 reading books to children and it has expanded to offer other programs and one of those is the urban farm which is Mustard Seed Sowers Farm.
Orlan and Chastity have been a part of the Southern Illinois farming community in Carbondale for nearly a decade. At their farm, they grow all of their food sustainably – which means they use no chemicals or machinery and they strive to offer healthy products to their customers while not harming the earth.
“We’re known for our Kale, locally, and we also specialize in dried herbs and herbal teas. We started growing produce in 2008 and have expanded just recently to offer dried herbs and herbal teas. The herbal teas have really taken off with the demand for healthy foods.
We do everything by hand – we grow, process, and package our products ourselves so we can bring the best to our customers.
“[Local food and sustainable agriculture allows [us] the use of one of the greatest mediums, the earth, as a means to revolutionize a different way of living, a different way of eating, and even a different way of thinking about the fellow citizens, insects, animals, and elements in [our] community, in [our] society, in [our] states, in [our] nation, and even internationally.]” Chastity Mays – Illinois Stewardship Alliance website
That different way of thinking earned Orlan & Chastity Mays the “2016 Innovative Farmer” Golden Beet Award from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance!
Click here to see YouTube video of winners
The Golden Beet Awards, now in their 6th year, are awarded by the Alliance to highlight progressive local food practices and recognize the people who are pushing the local food movement forward in Illinois. The winners represent some of the most innovative farmers and other practitioners that are building sustainable local food and farm systems.
“The Golden Beet Awards are our way of drawing attention to not only the hard-working farmers, but community volunteers, school teachers, chefs, bloggers, and many other passionate individuals from across the state who are finding unique ways to bring people together around local food […]These individuals are building their communities through local food systems and they deserve recognition for their efforts.” – Illinois Stewardship Alliance website
Illinois Stewardship Alliance solicits nominations from the general public in five categories: farm to school, community food projects, restaurants and institutions, innovative farmer, and scaling up. In order to insure an impartial selection, the Alliance organizes an outside committee of persons involved in local food systems throughout the state which then review the nominations and decide on the winner in each category.”
“It’s an honor to win such awards and our business has given us the opportunity to meet so many people along the way. And we’ve been inspired by so many, but I would have to say the most influential would be Dana Conner who encouraged us to grow, taught us her wisdom, and helped us in so many ways we cannot count along the way.
Our inspiration for what we grow and how we farm the land comes from wanting to live our lives as an example of a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are blessed to be able to do what we do! We learn something every day and it’s the best when we can share that new knowledge with others.”
Orlan and Chastity primarily sell their products at farmer’s markets and they have just recently begun selling their dried herbs and herbal teas online. In the coming years they would like to be still growing and expanding and have their online store thriving.
In finishing up, I asked them what they would like people to know about why it’s important to support the local small business community –
“It is very important to support the local handmade community because handmade means products that are made from the heart and each handmade product is unique. As a business owner, you have to be disciplined and very task oriented to make it happen and as a consumer, when you buy something handmade you are sharing in the experience of the process.
At the end of the day, it’s very hard work, but it’s well worth it!”
We are so happy to be featuring Cinnamon Basil Tea from Mustard Seed Sowers in our March – It’s Time For Tea – Box!
* Excerpts for this post were taken from Illinois Stewardship Alliance website. You can read more about the Alliance and the Golden Beet Award by clicking HERE
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