Let me start at the beginning…
Why ReMARKable Farms? Because of my amazing special needs son, Mark. Hi! My name is Denise Wetzel and I live near Moscow, Idaho with my husband, Henry and our two boys, Mark and Joshua. Let me tell you a little bit about my son, Mark, and why we decided to start a farm together…
Mark was born January 11, 2001. As Mark developed into a toddler, we noticed he was not keeping up with his peers in meeting developmental milestones. The most noticeable difference was in his language. I remember when Mark was about to turn 2 years old and we were visiting with our toddler play group at a friends house. One of the other children said, “We are having pie a la mode!” I was stunned. Mark could not even say “mom.” His first word was cheese (and he still loves cheese and requests it often).
Mark was in speech therapy at the time. I had read an article in a magazine about autism and brought it to our next appointment to show to the speech therapist. She confirmed my suspicious that something else besides just a speech delay was happening. Lucky for us…there was a psychologist at the office where the speech therapist worked. I made an appointment. After performing a series of language and behavioral tests, the psychologist said Mark met the criteria for autism. I didn’t even really know what autism was. I started reading and learning.
Fast forward about 10 years…
I had the opportunity to attend an intensive training program for parents of children with disabilities provided by the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities. This program lasted 9 months and we spent one weekend a month taking a “deep dive” into a specific topic of disability. For example, one weekend was dedicated to the history of disability, another to education and so on.
The weekend dedicated to disability employment really caught my attention. The speaker provided a lot of examples of people with significant physical and intellectual disabilities who were working in the community. I guess it planted a “weed” seed inside me (more about that under the ReMARKable Farms tab). Over the next few years, I learned more about Customized and Self Employment for individuals with disabilities. I thought about Mark and tried to find a way to incorporate his interests and strengths into a career path.
One day, I was walking down the steps of our rental house and I was thinking about Mark. He loves to be outside. He can follow simple instructions, especially for tasks that have a clear beginning and end. At the time, Mark was responsible for feeding the cat and dog. This is something he could do independently and actually seemed to enjoy. I wondered if his ability to carry out basic tasks could be applied to future employment. Not sure why, but I started thinking about chickens. It is relatively simple to feed and water chickens and they would be outside. Collecting, washing, and packaging eggs are simple tasks that can be taught. There is a clear beginning and end to each task. Of course the bonus is that you have a product to sell that almost everyone needs. Another big bonus is that the city of Moscow has a thriving Farmer’s Market. This meant there would be a good outlet for his product.
At the time, we were living in a rental house in Moscow. I started researching about sustainable farming and we started looking for a home with some acreage for the chickens. Mark’s egg business will be a sole proprietorship. It will be called ReMARKable Eggs.
I know this might be a little confusing. ReMARKable Farms is my venture with growing sunflowers and jams/jellies. ReMARKable Farms may expand in the future but right now (March 2019), all efforts are being made to get Mark’s business started. I will be providing support to Mark’s egg business so that he can be successful.
March 2015 Began documenting our farming journey in a blog
April 2015 Planted first seeds for growing sunflowers and made jams and jellies to sell at the Moscow Farmer’s market as part of ReMARKable Farms
January 2016 Started looking for home with acreage and working on a business plan; registered Remarkable Farms as a Limited Liability Company
July 14, 2017 Bought home right outside of Moscow with a little over 4 acres
January 11, 2019 Mark turned 18 and we begin the process of applying for funds from Vocational Rehabilitation (VocRehab)to help with starting ReMARKable Eggs
March 20, 2019 Posted ReMARKable Farms/Eggs website
April 2, 2019 Mark was been determined eligible for VocRehab services! Now, we will begin putting together his employment plan.