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Jams, Jellies, and Veggies by the Roadside

By Amanda Jones

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Growing up in rural Southern Illinois, I was fortunate…”

Growing up in rural Southern Illinois, I was fortunate enough to hop on my bicycle or ATV and be at either of my grandparents’ farms. Each summer I spent many hours with both of my grandmothers while my mom worked.  Grandma Helen and Grandma Mary were both so easy to love and be around.

Both grandparents had huge gardens that they planted for fresh use and to preserve for later in the year. I was usually not there early in the morning when they picked the beans, peas and other vegetables, but I often found myself sitting at the kitchen table later in the day doing various things to help out. I hulled peas, broke green beans, and helped to cut corn off the cob. This allowed plenty of time for conversation and learning. Sometimes I would also get to watch the canning happen. 

My favorite thing to do was pick strawberries at my Grandma Helen’s house. My sisters and I learned very quickly to pick them ripe and to absolutely not trample on the plants. If we were lucky, Grandma would make us strawberry leather. This was her version of a strawberry fruit roll up only way more delicious and coated with powdered sugar.

2015 Vegetable Harvest

Gardening was a way of life growing up. My mom and dad had a large garden, which we helped tend. I don’t remember eating canned green beans from a store until I was an older teenager. Corn came fresh from the cob and into the freezer. Food tastes so much better that way!

I moved away, became a nurse, got married to Chris and had two beautiful children. Life was busy, but good. I decided to start dabbling in gardening off and on after I was married. This brought along some successes and some failures but growth always is the result. 

In the summer of 2014, I decided to leave my longtime nursing job and stay home with the kids. The following spring, I made my first full throttle attempt at raised bed gardening in our backyard. This ignited a part of my past that would link me to our current adventure at Blue Pond Farms.

My little garden partner is always eager to plant, pull weeds or help me can and preserve things.

Here I am with my first raised bed garden!

Now that is a super sauce roma tomato!

“I think I could be happy selling jelly and vegetables at a roadside stand.”

At some point in this process, I made the statement “I think I could be happy selling jelly and vegetables at a roadside stand”. Little did I know what God would have in store for our family. Three years later while searching for a 2-3 acre piece of property we drove by a much larger piece of land on a whim. What I saw were blackberries and so many possibilities..

My father and mother-in-law were open to the idea of a large joint piece of land. We proceeded and moved forward with the idea of building houses. We found out at closing that the land had been used for small scale produce farming. Another spark was ignited on this journey.  How can we turn a hobby into a livelihood?  Oh, my wheels were turning. 

By the summer of 2018, Blue Pond Farm was selling vegetables and fruits at the farmer’s market. It isn’t a road-side stand, but it’s my little piece of heaven. I don’t sell jelly, but I love to pick blackberries in the rain and make those little jars of yumminess for my family and friends.  Blue Pond Farm continues to blossom and grow as we invite others to share in our journey.

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