I've been wanting to get back to writing, so here we are...
Keith and I have been in a working frenzy for the last few months.
This past summer we experienced our most difficult growing season ever.
Hot temperatures, little rain, & the fact that we were trying to open a business(Trolley Stop Market) in Downtown Memphis didn't make it any easier.
Keith and I are very much used to working as a unified team on the farm, but because of our new agri-business - we had to split our time together. Keith stayed at the farm, & I worked on managing the TSM. Keith had to shoulder so many of my responsibilities on the farm in addition to his own, and I had to learn how to run a restaurant with little to no experience doing so.
When we look back at June, July, & August it all just seems like a blur. Don't know how we did it, other than to say we definitely had & still have great talent at the TSM at the Farm, and we both know we had a lot of people praying for us during the most stressful time in our lives.
Keith and I have been saving our money for the last 5 years, not for any one particular reason other than to have a little nest egg. As time marched on we began to envision a year round market in Memphis. The more we talked with our customers & friends we knew we were on to something pretty good. We decided to take a chance and invest into our own little idea.
We had envisioned our store, not really based on anything other than the markets we had been attending, and how we wanted to give our fellow farming & artisan friends a place to sell their goods year round. We thought itd be awesome to have a little restaurant that showcased locally grown goodies everyday on the menu, with our farm being one of the main suppliers.
Keith and I searched for locations in Memphis off and on for about 2 months, until one day the perfect locale fell right into our laps. 704 Madison used to be a nightclub, and when we walked into the place you could definitely tell it was going to take some work to get it cleaned up.
After a lot of cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, building, chunking, painting, & moving, we had
the right environment for our little place. I'd like to add that we did all the work ourselves with the help of the Underhills from Peace Bee Farm, Jeremy Denno, and wonderful group of volunteers, many of which are now employeed at the TSM.
Now, just over 6 months old, we could not have anticipated a better response from the public for the Trolley Stop Market. I am thrilled to say that we have created well over 30 new jobs for some very special Memphians, and more to come if all works out!
Now that the market season is over, Keith & I are so very relieved to be working together once more. Only now he is COOKING at night at the TSM and I am still overseeing the general operations of the business. We have been sooooooooooooo blessed to have the team we have up there, and we are excited to announce that we are working on opening a 2nd restaurant in early 2011
We have been repeatedly asked if we will still be farming next year, and the answer is an emphatic YES! :) Farming is still our #1 passion, and we have already been planning for next year's crops. Many of our perennial beds have been planted, and spring crops have already been planted. We always thought we would continue to expand the farm, but we have decided to keep it small, just under 10 acres. We want to focus on crops for the Farmers Markets we attend & for the TSM. We have scaled our CSA way back, and plan to expand our shiitake mushroom operation. More to come in the weeks ahead!