(NOTE: If you're looking for info on where we deliver please see either the "Tips & FAQs" page.)
(Scroll down to read about our personal story!!)
ABOUT THIS MARKET: The Will's Eden Farm-To-Door Market is technically a type of CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. (The idea behind CSA's is for local farms to be supported by city and suburban communities who in turn receive top quality, locally sourced, produce and farm goods that wouldn't otherwise be conveniently accessible to them.) We were members of a popular CSA, ourselves, when we lived in Tucker, GA. It opened up a whole new world of food for us...but there were a few things we found frustrating about CSA's, too. So we're taking a leap of faith and eliminating those frustrations from our own market. Here's how we're going to be different:
1.) NO MEMBERSHIP FEES: The most traditional CSA format is one in which you have to pay up front for a full year of food deliveries. If the crops were stricken by blight or drought, your money would not be reimbursed despite receiving very little in return for it. On the other hand, if it was a banner year for crops, you'd receive much more than you paid for! The idea was that you, the consumer, were sharing in both the losses and the gains of that farm---you were part of their team, win or lose. It's a beautiful idea, really. Farming is veritable labyrinth of potentially devastating losses that are completely out of the farmer's control, and if consumers had to share in that burden they'd surely learn to be more appreciative and less wasteful! But the reality is, not everyone can afford to pay up front for that much food, and even fewer people can afford to not receive as much as they paid for. So over the last 15-20 years more and more CSA's have stepped away from that approach. Most charge some sort of membership fee instead, both to help offset their own inevitable losses and to give customers a sense of investment in the success of the farm. (I think many of them also hope that once someone has paid to be a member, they won't want to waste that investment so they'll be more likely to keep ordering.) I'll be honest, this was a hard one for us. We could REALLY use the added income of a membership fee, no matter how small. Farming is really expensive, especially in the first few years when you're getting everything established. But when we were customers, we didn't like the idea of feeling locked in by a seemingly arbitrary membership. And there were times when our budget could just barely handle helping the farm out by ordering from them, but we couldn't place orders because we didn't have funds to also pay the annual fee that was due. So....at this time we aren't charging membership fees. Please help us keep our service fee-free by ordering as often as you possibly can, and encouraging your friends and neighbors to do the same!!
2.) YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU'LL RECEIVE: Another major aspect of traditional CSA's was that the customer had zero input into what the farm grew and sent to them. Most CSA's these days have modified that by having several types of "farm boxes" you can pick from (such as a box with only fruit, only veggies, or some of everything)---you pick the type of box, the farm picks what specifically goes in it. Many of CSA's now also allow you to choose "add on" items to purchase along with your farm box, and some even allow you to skip the box and only purchase add on items, but usually you then have to pay an added fee. As farmers, we can definitely see the benefit of being the ones who decide what people will receive---it would ensure that the produce we have the most of gets sold, whether people actually want it or not!! But as consumers, we weren't always so thrilled with that system. We were really committed to supporting the farm we were buying from, and we wanted to purchase from them every week. But there's only so many ways to use mixed root veggies and Swiss chard! Week after week, the boxes contained at least one or two veggies that we already had plenty of or just plain didn't like. I mean, don't get me wrong, there were some benefits to that system, too. Namely, it forced us to try a lot of new foods, and many of those foods are now staples in our diet. But in the end, we didn't have money to be spending on food we never intended to eat, nor could we afford to keep paying the "add on fee" just to get what we actually wanted. And we suspect other people have felt the same way about their CSA experiences. So we're going to try a system that no one else seems to be doing (as far as we've been able to tell): We're letting you, our customers, have full control over what you order. If you want ten pounds of kale, then by golly it's yours. But if you only want a dozen eggs and an order of caramel popcorn, that's okay too! We may eventually create optional "farm boxes" for people who find it easier to just order a predetermined box rather than taking time to look at all the choices. But we won't charge people fees if they prefer to do their own shopping.
3.) WE HAVE AN UPFRONT DELIVERY FEE: If you've used other CSA's before, you may not be expecting a delivery fee. They all charge one, trust me. But it's usually hidden in the price of their goods. How do I know this? Because no CSA could survive if it received no reimbursement for the price of delivery, especially since most of us have to drive for several hours to reach our delivery locations. The profit margins are just too tight. We debated simply upping our prices and calling the delivery free, because that sure would sound more appealing! But as customers we would've preferred a more upfront approach, so that's what we went with. Home delivery is $5 a person. If you only need one or two small items, I know that fee will sting, We're sorry about that. Truly. We spent several days trying to work out the lowest we could possibly charge, and I'm afraid this is where it needs to be. I would encourage you to see if a neighbor wants to order something so you two could share the cost of delivery, if you're only getting a few items. If an organization, such as a school or business, wants to arrange for multiple boxes to be dropped off in that one location we plan to offer those customers 50% off delivery. (Currently Hirsch Academy and Connections School in Decatur, Zeist Co in Buckhead, and NAPC in Downtown are locations where you can receive discounted delivery. Please the the FAQ's page for details.) NEW!! FREE DELIVERY COUPON AVAILABLE IF YOU PURCHASE $100 OR MORE. TO USE THIS COUPON, TYPE "OVER$100" INTO THE DISCOUNT BAR DURING CHECKOUT!
IF YOU LIVE NEARBY AND JUST WANT TO PICK YOUR ITEMS UP HERE AT OUR FARM, contact us at email@example.com or call/text 404) 219-3650. We have a coupon code for you to enter which will deduct the full amount of the automatic delivery fee!
4.) OUR PRICES: We try very hard to keep our prices competitive. And as a family who has spent many years surviving barely above the federal poverty line, we want to keep our prices as reasonable as possible so a wide range of people can order from us. That being said, we're also trying to support other small local farms and operations like our own, so when we offer their goods to you we pay them much more than traditional wholesale prices. Competing with prices at places like Sprouts and Walmart is quite difficult when you're paying as much as ten times the wholesale price they pay. If our prices ever strike you as being too high, rest assured it's NOT because we're making a tremendous profit on it. We rarely even achieve the classic 50% mark-up rate, more often settling for anywhere from 25-35%. On the other hand, unlike those chain stores we're helping other small farms to survive by paying them sustainable wholesale prices. That means YOUR purchase contributes to the survival of not one, but two local food enterprises! In this day and age, when the traditional family farm is either getting swallowed up by corporate agriculture or simply dying altogether, that contribution is more important than ever!!
Both my husband Danny and I (Sandy) lived in or very near large cities all our lives, but we're also hardcore nature lovers! So along with our young son, Will, we spent as much time as we could camping and enjoying the great outdoors. I also always dreamed of living on a farm. ALWAYS. As a little girl I used to insist that God must have meant for me to grow up on a farm, but there was a mix-up in Heaven. My soul ached for the simpler life. Every single thing about homesteading was right down my ally. (Well....except harvesting your own meat. Still not quite ready for that one.) In fact, when Danny proposed to me back in 2000, I coyly replied, "Yes. But ONLY if you promise that one day I'll have some chickens in the backyard, a few ducks on a pond, and the hope of moving to a farm in the future." Our first backyard chicken actually found us just a few years after we were married---she showed up in our Tucker, GA yard one day, and decided she was home. A few years later we eagerly added a few ducks to our backyard flock...and promptly regretted that decision. Yeah. Ducks aren't meant for small yards so close to neighbors. (Seriously, though, if you live in the suburbs DO NOT get ducks. Just don't. Bless their hearts.) Thankfully we were able to rehome the ill-fated quackers with some new friends who were lucky enough to have an actual farm.
In 2004 a gorgeous baby boy, Will, completed our family. As he grew, we noticed that he struggled in ways most other kids don't have to. He was diagnosed with autism at three years, and we slowly learned to release the son we'd expected to raise and joyfully embrace the son we were actually blessed with. His autism does present challenges and sometimes even heartbreaks, but it has also transformed us for the better and infused our lives with a joyful innocence that we wouldn't trade for the world. And we whole-heartedly believe that autism is a difference to be explored, understood, and embraced; not a curse to be shunned, feared, or eradicated.
A few years ago we started farm-sitting once or twice a year for those friends who adopted our ducks; and Danny and I began to notice something very compelling. The longer we stayed at the farm, the more calm, centered, and engaged Will was. It eventually became clear that the chaotic, noisy Metro Atlanta life was affecting Will in ways we'd never even considered. Up until that time, farming had remained one of those dreams I'd casually bring up ever so often, only to have Danny reply, "Maybe one day...if we can ever afford to retire". As much as Danny loved the great outdoors, he was happy living in the Atlanta area and simply escaping to a farm ever so often. But when he began to witness the transformation Will went through during the longer farm-sitting stays, even Danny started imagining a permanent move. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!) In 2016, we realized the time was right (for a host of reasons), and we took a major leap of faith. We sold our home in GA and ended up finding our own little piece of paradise down here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. (It's just 90 minutes from downtown Atlanta, when traffic's good.) We have 28.3 acres with a perfect balance of untouched woods and aged pastureland, not to mention a 2 acre pond stocked with fish. Every single day we encounter mother nature at her best and constantly pinch ourselves to make sure it's really real! We chose the name Will's Eden because it honors the reason we came here in the first place and reflects exactly how all three of us feel about this farm.
We're a very new farm, and still doing a lot of learning and growing. One thing we're certain of is that anything we do should be as close to nature's way as possible; so we plant using organic, sustainable, nature-friendly practices. We've also applied those same principles to how we raise our poultry. Currently we have about 130 chickens and 26 ducks. (Read more about our poultry and their feed/habitats when you click on the "Farm Fresh Eggs" section of our products lists!) In addition to the chickens and ducks, we also have two awesome dogs, five cats, and two peacocks! Why peacocks, you might ask? Well, even though Will was totally on board with moving to the country, any kind of change is tricky for him and a transition that major was downright nerve-wracking. We wanted to give him something supremely exciting to focus on in hopes of easing that transition anxiety---and there was nothing on this earth Will wanted more than his very own peacocks! They did the trick, too. Will made the transition from city boy to farmer without a hitch!
Raising, growing, and making things is only half of our vision for Will's Eden. One day we hope to create a place of fun and respite for both kids with autism and their families. At this point we honestly have no idea exactly how it'll work or what it'll look like. (If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share them!) We just want to give individuals with autism a chance to come here, far away from the overstimulating city environment, and just be completely free to be themselves. One idea we've had is to host gatherings of families with autistic kids, so the parents can relax and enjoy some time with other adults without having to worry about the things parents like us usually have to prepare for. Like, what if my kid suddenly becomes determined to go inside and curl up in the Master bed (under the covers, of course)? Or, worse, what if he/she suddenly appears from the the bathroom wearing no pants?! We want to be a place where none of that stuff matters---where parents don't have to spend hours pre-planning in an attempt to avoid socially awkward situations. Because....hey, we get it. We've been there. A LOT. We also know that there is nothing more amazing than to witness our children being welcomed and embraced for who they are inside, rather than being judged for how their bodies happen to behave. It's hard for families affected by autism to find a "safe place" to relax outside of the home. We'd just really love to be that place for people someday.
We also welcome anyone who wants to visit and see for themselves that the feathered ladies who produce our eggs are truly happy and healthy, and that our gardens are growing without the use of any chemicals. One day we hope to offer "farm days" for anyone (not just those affected by autism) to come play in the dirt with us!
(Will presented this sign to us about six months after we moved here. Because autism creates communication barriers for him, the fact that he chose to send us this little message means everything!)