CA & J Farm opened to the public in 2017. Their 5 acre, off-grid capable solar Medicinal Herb & Egg Farm in Mathews County is an example of how you can do big things with just a little land. Besides the wide variety of beautiful medicinal and culinary herbs, they specialize in raising elderberries, pollinator plants (dianthus, coreopsis and asters), bedding plants for your gardens and non GMO, Organically raised, soy free fed chicken and duck eggs.
“Before the farm, I always worked in accounts payable and bookkeeping for various companies … always wanted to have my own business, just happened to find my passion and start the farm,” said Jean Howard. “I took the Master Gardening Training and went to school for four years to become an herbalist and love sharing the knowledge with all who visit the farm. We love to talk healthy living, natural ways and good foods. Being healthy is important at any age! Being as self-sustaining as possible makes you feel wonderful!”
Jean and her husband C.A. Howard consider themselves modern homesteaders. With the help of two great pyrenees, Jack and Jill, and their farm family (the young people that work here), they support the farm with sales from the “Yellow Barn Store” and the herbal course, which gives the basics of herbalism.
“We also love to share healthy information we have gained over the last 30 years with others who want to start a similar pain free, energetic lifestyle, no matter your age! Our farm hosts monthly community drum circles, spring thru fall, and two annual events that benefit the local Humane Society.”
One of the biggest challenges they face is the WEATHER! It has been rainy and muddy since October 2018 and no one comes to a farm when it is cold, wet and rainy! This leads to the inability to hire and pay needed workers. Plenty of work, but no monies to afford the workers! However, they keep moving forward – staying positive that things will get better. They know they need to be realistic about having help. A small business does not have to look “rich”… Working hard is just part of being a small business! “Keep pushing forward, don’t give up… success will happen!”
The Howards’ advice to other small businesses is to get out there and get noticed! Your business can be the prettiest, most perfect venture, but if no one knows about it…you will fail! Many small businesses think they cannot afford to pay for advertising or find the time to attend local meetings…but they cannot afford not to! Your community must see you out there caring…then they will care about you.
The Howards follow their own advice! They are active on Facebook, Instagram, VA Artisan Trail, Member of two Chamber of Commerces (on the board of one), Peninsula Women’s Network and now Retail Alliance. Jean and C.A. serve on fundraising committees with the local Humane Society and are active with the local 4-H. They began a YouTube Channel in January 2019 for the farm and participate in local business training gatherings and farm markets to help other groups raise monies. They advertise in the local papers three times a month and have even used the radio to advertise big events at the farm. Even in today’s “hi-tech” world, it is still about the personal networking that happens over a cup of coffee.
Beyond their community participation, the Howards know their personal touch with visitors has gotten them loyal followers. Their herbal course is full for 2019 and there is already a list of people interested in 2020! They love what they do, they care and it shows!
CA & J Farms loves to have groups visit! You can even schedule special presentations! Guests can visit the Dragonfly Prayer & Meditation Labyrinth anytime the farm is open, free of charge … a nice, quiet place to relax a bit.
Please check the website www.cajfarm.com for details, and discover their new YouTube channel – CA & J Farm. The farm is open for sales and tours … to the public, year-round and weekly, most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10:30AM-6:00PM. Please do check the website for any schedule changes before visiting.