It was never my intention to start a farm…
Hello! My name is Denise Wetzel and I grew up on a small pig farm in Kansas. My family grew wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, hay, soybeans, and corn (for silage). We also had cattle and a farrow to finish pig operation.
When I was about 7 years old I became fascinated with flowers. I remember pulling apart a dandelion and reading in an encyclopedia to learn about the parts of the flower. Did you know that a dandelion flower is actually a collection of flowers? Then again, many people say a dandelion is a weed and not a flower. I will leave it up to you to decide for yourself what side of the debate you fall on.
I knew early that I really wanted to work with plants. Once I got to college, I entered a major in Horticulture but then switched to Agronomy after one semester. Agronomy is the study of crops and soil science. I enjoyed it so much that I got a Masters of Science in Agronomy. During my Masters, I studied pigweeds. It seems that I could not get away from “weeds”.
While working on my masters, I married Henry Wetzel. After graduating, we moved to North Carolina. Our first son, Mark, was born in Raleigh in 2001. Right after Mark turned 2, he was diagnosed with autism. This pretty much changed everything. I had to quit my job as a lab technician because we could not find a daycare that knew how to care for Mark. I didn’t see what the big deal was…to me, he just seemed like a 2 year old that could not talk.
It was at this time, that we moved to Florida and our second son, Joshua, was born. I was mostly a stay-at-home mom at this time. I set up therapy trials for Mark and cared for our newborn. When Joshua was 14 months old, he was also diagnosed with autism.
When Mark was 5 and Joshua was 2, we moved to north Idaho. I eventually started working at a nonprofit helping parents with children with disabilities. I did this for several years and really enjoyed it. In 2011, we moved to Moscow, Idaho.
After the move to Moscow, the boys were in school and I continued to work with a nonprofit helping families with children with disabilities. Thinking about the future, I wanted our children to be contributing members of society. I learned about customized employment and how self employment are good options for individuals with disabilities. I looked at Mark’s interests and abilities. It seemed that a farm business might be a good fit for him. I did more research into sustainable farming and decided to learn more about the Moscow Farmer’s Market.
In early 2015, I was attending a farmer meeting sponsored by the local extension service. We went around and introduced ourselves and I explained that I was just starting out to learn more about selling at the farmer’s market. After the meeting, a farmer’s offered me some space on his farm to grow something to sell at the market. I decided to grow and and sell cut sunflowers.
Once I got to the market, I felt like I needed something else to sell in addition to the sunflowers. We had some raspberry bushes at our rental house in town. I made some jam to sell.
I really enjoyed selling at the market! I started thinking about other things I could make to sell at the market. We started going out and picking huckleberries and making huckleberry jam. We also forage for wild blackberries to make into jam. All the jams I make are from fruit/flowers that we grow ourselves OR fruit that we have foraged. We do not use any chemicals on our fruit bushes.
We purchased a small farm in 2017. Starting a farm is something I never really intended to do but I am so happy that we have this opportunity. Now, I am helping Mark start ReMARKable Eggs, a pastured poultry egg business, so we can sell his eggs at the Moscow Farmer’s Market. I have more ideas for expansion of ReMARKable Farms but I am putting those ideas on hold while I help Mark get his egg business going…