Grant Award: $6,000 — Wood Fired Value Added Processing
Pamela has eliminated most of the electricity costs associated with making homemade preserves with the installation of a wood cook stove. She makes jam out of the black raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from her three acre pick-your-own operation.
Pamela uses the stove to sterilize jars in hot water as well as process the jam. In 2016, she sold more than 500 jars of berry preserves to pick-your-own customers, and she said she probably could have sold twice that much as she continues to receive requests.
“Expanding the sales of our value-added component cost effectively by using wood will contribute to the continued sustainability of our family’s farm,” Pamela said.
She is also holding canning workshops to demonstrate how to use the wood-fired stove, with the name “Pick your own—Make your own jams on a wood cook stove.” She is creating an advertising campaign to increase sales of her product, using funds that she saved in decreased electrical bills. Her slogan is “Each batch is handmade and slow cooked on a wood cook stove.”
Pamela appreciates that wood is a renewable resource. The new generation wood stove burns efficiently, especially when a water jacket is added. She is making use of 45 acres of woods behind her house, which she harvests in a sustainably responsible manner.
The Zimmermans started their pick-your own berries in 1999 as a way to transition from tobacco, which they did so entirely in 2005. Her family had farmed tobacco since 1972.
Most of the preserves are sold to pick-your-own customers. Pamela also ships to regular patrons. Zimmermans were some of the first WNC AgOptions recipients, receiving grants in 2005 and 2006. The projects helped her grow her berry patches and increase her pick-your-own customer base, bringing in needed income.