Kickstarter!!

Great, wonderful, amazing things are happening these days!

The most exciting by far is the Kickstarter project that was launched at the beginning of April. (My kids put the whole thing together- including the video and slide show! I am so proud of them!) I set the goal at $5,000 and have surpassed that at almost $5,700 with 4 days still left!
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/biscotti/sunnyfield-farm-and-baking-co

I am so grateful that so many people believe in me and my business, whether they are friends, family or just someone who saw my story in the newspaper or online.  It’s phenomenal!

My business really will get a “Kick Start” and I will be able to rent a kitchen just around the corner and and be able to really crank out the biscotti!

Another great thing! A couple of days ago I found out I was the winner of an $800 Vocation Grant from Altrusa, International (Portland, ME). The money will go towards building my brand, logo design and labeling!

It’s all coming together! Now to get back to baking for my wholesale orders and prepping for the first Kennebunk Farmers’ Market on Saturday!

Letter to Maine Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee

Two years ago I headed to Augusta, Maine to testify before the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on the importance of continued funding for the fantastic programs offered by Women, Work and Community. This year I’m busy baking (!) and am sending this letter to the Committee in my absence. I hope WWC receives the funding they need!

March 20, 2013

Representative Kathleen Chase and Members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee:

My name is Liz Mott, and I own Sunnyfield Farm and Baking Company in Wells. I am a 2010 graduate of the New Ventures Entrepreneurship Training program through the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community (WWC). I understand you are facing serious budgetary challenges yet again and want to lend a personal perspective to the importance of the continued funding of these programs.

On Mother’s Day  2009, at the age of 38, I found myself a widow with 3 small children (ages 5, 6, and 11). Forced to move out of our home in Paris, ME, we moved in with my parents on their unused farm in Wells, ME.

I had been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom for the previous 11 years. With no career to “fall back on”, I decided to look into starting my own business. The kids started in public school, and I started re-creating my life.

I had an idea of organically farming the land, so in May  2010 I headed out into the field with a rototiller and hand tools from my parent’s shed and started planting seeds. Soon after, I took a Basics of Starting a Business course through WWC, which made me realize I had a viable business idea, so I applied for and was accepted into the New Ventures program.

Led by Gigi Guyton, Microenterprise Coordinator, this invaluable class was a weekly, in-depth immersion into the world of micro-business. Surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs from all walks of life, all with diverse business ideas, we shared the common bond of wanting to be successful business owners.

Weekly presentations by attorneys, insurance agents, finance and marketing experts, and the like helped us to understand the intricacies of starting our own business. By the end of the class, we each had a completed business plan and a network of supportive classmates, many of whom continue to be in contact with one another.

By late summer, I was proud to say that I was the owner of Sunnyfield Farm & Baking Company. I had successfully established a large organic garden where I grew vegetables, herbs and flowers.  I sold to individuals, at Farmer Markets in Wells and Kennebunk and a local chef.  I also got the farm kitchen certified by the state and began to produce and sell high-quality baked goods at the markets and to a local cafe.

Before long it was my biscotti that became the focus of my business and I started selling to Coffee by Design’s 3 locations in Portland and at the LLBean flagship store in Freeport, Stonewall Kitchen Cafe in York, Scarborough Grounds, The Gelato Fiasco, Kitchen Chicks Cafe and others.

A website designed by a friend gave me a way to sell my goods online, and I started taking orders from around the country.  I was just accepted at the Kennebunk Farmers Market as their newest vendor where I will sell my biscotti and marshmallows there as well as at market in Wells.

My next goal is to secure a commercial kitchen to use full time. I have 2 major distributors interested in my biscotti but I must be able to meet their demand. Increased sales will allow me to provide for my children’s needs, find us our own home, and provide jobs for others in the community.

I understand that Women, Work and Community is facing proposed cuts in each of the next two years in the biennial budget under the Maine Department of Labor that will seriously affect their ability to deliver services statewide.  I urge you to find ways to maintain the current level of support or, if possible, expansion of their funding, so that programs of Women, Work and Community can continue and women like me can continue on the path to a secure financial future.

 

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Mott

Owner, Sunnyfield Farm & Baking Co.

Wells, Maine

sunnyfieldbaking.com

It’s great to have friends with ovens!

For the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to use the kitchen at a friend’s Inn for baking and it has been fantastic! It proves that I have definitely outgrown the oven at home. (it’s now fixed!)  Now to figure out how to have a kitchen for me to use full time…

 

 

The Oven is Broken

My excitement at having lots of oven space early in the summer was short-lived as I was soon back to baking in the little farm kitchen (two half-sheet pans at a time.)  It was great to be able to use a commercial kitchen and bake a dozen or so full sheet pans at a time, with plenty of space to work in!

In 2010 when I first started selling veggies at Farmers’ Markets I was anxious to add baked goods to my list of items to sell. One problem I had was a broken oven for a few months- and it took buying the wrong part on eBay and then 2 more parts til I got it fixed and was able to finally bake.

Now the oven is broken again and my mom doesn’t want to buy a new stove (for those of you who may not know my kids and I are living with my parents after I was widowed in 2009). SO… I’ll have to track down the part for another $200 plus repair…

I’m still working towards my goal of my own commercial kitchen and my own home for the kids and me.  I have a major distributor interested in selling my biscotti and we met late last fall with talks of biscotti being purchased by the case and picked up by large trucks for delivery. It seems so crazy to think that I’m working so hard and being held back by a broken oven and a stupid F7 error code, and if I had a big kitchen I could crank out the biscotti and be well on my way to financial freedom.

No, I am not giving up on this!

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberries and Slugs

My 2 youngest kiddos are definitely having a bath tonight.

A quick trip to pick strawberries from the bed near the hen-free henhouse was not so quick.

As it turns out, one sign of a healthy organic garden is a healthy slug population. My garden must be super-organic because it is hosting a super-huge slug population.

After seeing that my first gorgeous crop of strawberries (my favorite fruit) riddled with holes – some holes still occupied by slug-  I ran in to the house to get some stale beer from the basement fridge. The Sam Adams Summer Ale my NJ brother bought last summer when he was visiting and then everyone forgot about.

Then to find smooth-edged containers to put the beer in to lure the slugs to a drunken death. Of course all the tuna cans from the weekend’s tuna melt fest are already in the recycling bins at the transfer station. I found a couple of shallow gratin dishes. I may never gratin anything again after this.

Back outside, my 9 year old daughter then sat and helped me pick berries, and as it turns out, slugs. I didn’t realize she was going anywhere near the slugs until she asked me if I thought I was a “girly-girl”. My only honest answer, as I was picking slugs bare-handed and tossing them into a puddle of beer, was “I don’t think so honey…” Then I looked up to see her tossing strawberries one way and slugs the other. I felt so proud. Then she went through the list of what friends we had that could handle dealing with slugs like we were. It turns out she thinks she has more friends who can handle slugs than I do.

My 8 year old son then decided it was time to check for slugs in the “big” garden down the hill.  Jackpot!

As we pulled up a row-cover from last year (my only chance against the evil quack-grass) we saw tons of slugs. “We might need more beer, Mommy!” So the slug-picking commenced until he found some snails that he could eradicate with a satisfying “crunch” between his fingers.

Before we knew it a garter snake made it’s way by our feet, but I was quick to snatch it up, while thoughts of Steve Irwin flashed through my mind. “Mommy, it’s not going to bite, don’t worry!”

We took turns holding it, with various squeals, especially when it decided to pee on all of us whenever we held it. We decided the snake needed to get back home and we watched as it slithered into a hole in the planting bed. Right where I want to plant some more kale seeds…

With that, it mercifully started to rain. We ran up the hill, grabbed the bowl of strawberries and headed in the house.

The bathtub is filling – not quite quickly enough, and my daughter walks in the room as I type this to tell me that her hands are really sticky. “You washed them with soap and water when we came in, right?” “No, I just used hand-cleaner.”  Now that’s kinda gross. Time to end this and pull out the soap and washcloths. Maybe a loofah too.

Sunny morning in the kitchen

On a gorgeous day like today it’s tough to be in the kitchen baking! The garden still needs lots of planting, but at least the brassicas are in; broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, as well as quite a few eggplant. (That’s an understatement–9 year old daughter J and I went a little overboard with seedlings this year.)

A crazy schedule this week (including a call for a AAA tow truck and the ensuing replacement of brakes, rotors and a piston or two and no car for a couple of days…) has me baking in the farm kitchen this morning. (As opposed to the amazing commercial kitchen I have access to lately!)

My biscotti order is almost done- 3 dozen chocolate chip and toasted almond dipped in chocolate, a batch of whoopie pies and earlier, a trip down to Rt. 1 to drop off samples.

J (in great helping mode lately!) is making tuna melts for lunch, complete with additions of celery and fresh-ground pepper and her favorite Cabot extra sharp cheddar. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

I’ll be in the garden soon- planting as much as I can before we have to hit the road for an adventure this afternoon.

It’s all good!

Oven Space!

I never knew that oven space would prove important in my life.
The kitchen in the house I grew up in had 2 ovens. That is, after the big re-do in the mid 80’s That’s when we got a wall-mounted microwave (popcorn!!) over the new wall-mounted oven. I think we ate Wendy’s for dinner every night for 2 weeks while the renovations were in progress. It was the only fast food place near home.
Of the 2 ovens, the wall oven only got used for Thanksgiving, while the turkey was crowding the “regular” oven, and on days when I wanted to bake cookies while mom had a meatloaf and baked potatoes or some other dinner taking up the usual baking spot.
I took those ovens for granted, in a big, bad way. You see, now I have one (state-certified) oven to use to bake dozens of biscotti a week. One oven with 2 shelves- so I can bake 2 half-sheet pans at a time. One whole sheet pan. sigh
And baking biscotti means baking it twice. It’s all in the Latin translation from “biscoctus” meaning twice-cooked/baked. What was I thinking?
So you’ll understand my quest for more oven space. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to have someone share their awesome, commercial oven space. I’ve heard the word “liability” more times than I care to share with you.
Last week I toured a kitchen I can rent by the hour. They have an oven like I’ve only ever seen in my dreams (and on the Food Network). It has room for SIXTEEN full sheet pans at a time and it revolves like a ferris wheel.
What does this mean, you ask? More biscotti for all! More flour and butter and sugar mixed with yummy things like toasted almonds, crystallized ginger and fresh lemon zest, chocolate chips and toffee bits. More places to find my fantastic biscotti!
Now to pound the pavement, and the internet and find places to deliver all those unbaked dozens of biscotti goodness!
Watch me grow!