News - Interviews

Cyber Monday – 5R Farm

December 2, 2013

(Originally posted on UndercoverCaterer.com)

You may or may not have noticed a little box on the sidebar of this here blog advertising 5R Farm. It’s owned and run by my friends Stacy and Sean. Stacy is the maker of soaps and lotions, as well as the chicken whisperer. I’m not sure if the chickens came before the soaps and lotions, but I’m just happy it’s all coming together. Stacy and I have been planning this little interview for quite some time and I am finally ready to get it published, just in time for holiday shopping!

stacy_and_girls

Stacy with the ladies and gents

UC: How did you get into the farm business? Was it something you always dreamed of, or was it an accident?

5R: I have gardened in small urban backyards for many years and was constantly wishing that I had more space for a bigger garden. When I began keeping backyard chickens in addition to being an avid gardener, it wasn’t long before I realized that my urban backyard was not big enough to accommodate a flock of chickens and a large enough garden to grow everything that I wanted to grow. I also wanted to expand the size of the chicken flock to more than the 5 we had, but there was no room for any more chickens. So a couple of years ago my husband and I started looking at rural property within an hour of Portland, and within a few months we were the proud owners of 4.5 acres in St. Helens, Oregon.

UC: I know you live in Portland, how often do you get to the farm? Do you plan on living there full time ever?

5R: I am very fortunate to work a 3/4-time schedule at my job in Portland, which allows me to get out to the farm for at least a couple of days every week. We hope to live at the farm full-time in the next few years, I just need to figure out the right work schedule/telecommute balance to allow us to do that. In the meantime, we have a friend that lives at the farm full-time who tends to the chickens and waters the garden while we’re away. {Since this interview, Stacy has transitioned to the farm full time!}

UC: Tell me about your soaps and lotions. What are the main ingredients? Are any of the ingredients grown on your farm? What do you use for the nubbly bits?

5R: The main ingredients are olive, coconut, palm, and castor oil, and cocoa butter. These ingredients are all very moisturizing and nourishing, and it’s nice to be able to identify all of the ingredients in the products you are using on your skin! I use several botanical ingredients to add color and texture to my soaps. The colorants include spices such as paprika, clove, and tumeric, and the exfoliating bits include coffee, ground oatmeal, ground almonds, and poppy seeds. I do not currently grow any of the ingredients on my farm, but that is something that is definitely on my to do list for the future. The lotions are made with various combinations of vegetable oils, aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin E. They are whipped which gives them a long-lasting creamy texture.

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A sample of Stacy’s soaps and lotions

UC: What’s going on at the farm now?

5R: We’ve gotten lots of projects accomplished last summer. We built a greenhouse using mostly repurposed materials (reused deck boards for the floor, re-used doors, old storm windows for the glass, and scrap corrugated plastic for skylights). We also installed a bee hive and built a second chicken coop and chicken run. We are currently building a pergola on the back deck to provide shade in the summer and make a nice an outdoor space we can enjoy during the rainy season as well.

We also installed our first bee hive in April of this year. The colony has grown in size from the 10,000 bees I purchased to probably approximately 50,000 bees now. The bees appear to be putting away a good amount of honey for the winter, and there may even be enough for us to harvest a some honey this fall. I’ve learned already that beekeeping is a challenging hobby. There is a lot to learn, and everyone’s hives will perform differently, so you really just have to learn by observing your hive and seeing what works for you. It can also be a bit intimidating, and it certainly helps to have a calm attitude when working around thousands of bees!

UC: I’m really excited about your cheese making. I’ve made some fresh cheeses, but never something to age like cheddar. Was it difficult? Are you aging, and if so, for how long?

5R: It’s not difficult, but it does require attention to detail and precise temperature control during the cheese making process. The hard cheeses take a long time to make – up to 7 hours for the better cheddar recipes. Although it’s not a constant 7 hours of work, many of the steps are a half an hour apart, or every 5 minutes for an hour. I aged my cheddar for about 3 months, but I did not notice a huge difference in the quality of the aged versus fresh cheese. I have not found the perfect cheddar recipe yet, but there are some other recipes and ingredients I want to try in search of the perfect homemade cheddar. I’m really fond of the fresh cheeses too. I have a herbed queso blanco recipe that is super quick to make and is delicious.

UC: Hmmm, maybe I will have to get that recipe to share.

Forest views

View of the farm from above

I wholeheartedly encourage you all to visit her online shop and look around. I am a ‘soap-of-the-month’ gal, and I love her lotions. Any would be welcome under the tree for girls and boys alike.

Check out the 5R website! There’s all kinds of cool stuff going on there.

I can personally vouch for these products, and was not paid to tell you this.

An Interview with 5R Farm

January 5, 2013

5R Farm – A Rural Farm Story & FarmMade Shop

(originally posted on FarmMade.com)

It is with joy that we share urban, suburban, and rural farm stories to celebrate today’s farmers; to show them our support and gratitude for all that they do, all that they make, and all that they grow.  We believe these stories to be a source of inspiration to the growing number of people who long for a simpler life; a life filled with fun, joy, adventure, new experiences, meaning, connectedness (with the outdoor world and each other), creativity, good health, and more.

We hope to inspire you to plant an edible garden; get those chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, alpacas, or cows you’ve always wanted to raise; learn how to become a beekeeper; take up cooking at home; sitting down at the table to enjoy a meal together; learn how to preserve the seasons’ harvests; and keep the many old-fashioned skills and time-honored traditions alive!  No matter what your age; no matter how much (or how little) experience you might have; and, no matter how much (or how little) space you have today; you can become a farmer.  Regardless of where you live – be it in the city, suburbs or out in the country – the farm life awaits you in ways large and small!

So, what are you waiting for? Need to hear a real farmer’s story first?

Well, you’re in luck dear friends because we have yet another inspiring story to share with you today plus this farmer is the maker of a fabulous assortment of soaps, lotions, and body butters!

After 15 years of urban gardening and constantly wishing she had space for a bigger garden, Stacy Benjamin is thrilled to have recently become a rural farmer in the Pacific Northwest.

Let’s find out how Stacy became a farmer, what her life is like at 5R Farm, and see a sampling of the lovely soaps, lotions, and body butters she makes and lists in her shop on www.farmmade.com!

Garden and House at 5R Farm in St. Helens Oregon

Stacy, where is your farm located?

My farm is in St. Helens, Oregon, which is about an hour from Portland. I have been living in Oregon since my family moved to Portland in 1980.

In a nutshell, what is the story behind your farm.  Why the name 5R Farm?

Although I didn’t know it at the time, 5R Farm began in March 2010, when I brought home three little chicks from the farm store. There was Rhoda –  the Rhode Island Red, Raquel – the Barred Plymouth Rock, and Ramona – the Easter Egger who was supposed to lay blue or green eggs. Unfortunately Ramona turned out to be Ramon, and I had to return him to the farm store since roosters weren’t allowed in the city limits. With the backyard flock reduced to only two chickens, in July 2010 I bought three more chicks – Ruby,  Rosie, and Ramona2. I had been an avid urban gardener for many years, and I soon realized that my small urban backyard was not big enough to accommodate a flock of chickens and a large enough garden to grow everything that I wanted to grow. I also wanted to expand the size of the chicken flock, but there was no room for any more chickens on my standard size city lot.

5R Farm logo St. Helens Oregon

I started looking at rural property within an hour of Portland, and within a few months I was the proud owner of 4.5 acres in St. Helens, Oregon. I named the property 5R Farm, after the five girls that inspired me to buy the property.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, 5R Farm began in March 2010, when I brought home three little chicks from the farm store. There was Rhoda –  the Rhode Island Red, Raquel – the Barred Plymouth Rock, and Ramona – the Easter Egger who was supposed to lay blue or green eggs. Unfortunately Ramona turned out to be Ramon, and I had to return him to the farm store since roosters weren’t allowed in the city limits. With the backyard flock reduced to only two chickens, in July 2010 I bought three more chicks – Ruby,  Rosie, and Ramona2. I had been an avid urban gardener for many years, and I soon realized that my small urban backyard was not big enough to accommodate a flock of chickens and a large enough garden to grow everything that I wanted to grow. I also wanted to expand the size of the chicken flock, but there was no room for any more chickens on my standard size city lot.

I started looking at rural property within an hour of Portland, and within a few months I was the proud owner of 4.5 acres in St. Helens, Oregon. I named the property 5R Farm, after the five girls that inspired me to buy the property.

What do you grow and raise?  What is the approximate size of your farming space? 

I have a flock of 25 hens, and Rooster Cogburn, Ramon, Ringo, Grayson, Henry, and Lil’ Red Rooster round out the flock. Our hens lay approximately 8 dozen eggs a week, which I sell locally. I have an approximately 50 foot by 50 foot vegetable garden. I grow raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, garlic, leeks, lettuce, onions, peppers, rhubarb, tomatoes, squash, and swiss chard. I also have several apple, pear and plum trees.

What influenced you to become a farmer?

I have enjoyed growing my own vegetables on a small scale for many years and have always received a great deal of satisfaction from spending long days working in the garden. Some recent changes in my professional life caused me to reevaluate my priorities, and I decided that I wanted to focus more of my time and energy on activities that were meaningful to me which led to the decision to farm on a larger scale.

Why do you choose to farm?

It’s important to me that I know where our food comes from and that it is grown and raised locally and sustainably. Growing our own food and raising our own chickens is one of the best ways to ensure we are eating healthy, and it’s lots of fun too!

Congratulations on setting up your brand new shop on www.farmmade.com!  Can you let our blog readers know what you make and offer from your farm?

I make soaps, lotions, hand creams, and body butters using natural ingredients including vegetable oils, cocoa butter, shea butter, aloe vera, vitamin E, and essential oils. I also make laundry powder and a liquid soap that can be used for hand washing or household cleaning.

Gardener's soap (orange clove) and lotion set (cucumber cream and chamomile bergamot) made by Stacy at 5R Farm

Chamomile Bergamot Luxurious Lotion and Almond Body Butter homemade by Stacy of 5R Farm FarmMade

What do you enjoy most about making homemade personal care products and soaps for household cleaning?

I enjoy making soaps and lotions because they are products that everyone needs and uses on a daily basis, and using handmade soaps and lotions is a nice way to pamper yourself a little bit every day. It’s also fun to make soaps and lotions because there are so many varieties of fragrances, colors, and textures that you can combine to make something unique, and you can create a product to suit the preferences of just about anyone.

We encourage others to help preserve time-honored traditions, old-fashioned skills and we also celebrate the modern arts and contemporary craft movement.  What arts, crafts, skills, and traditions do you enjoy?

My hobbies include cheese making, canning, candle making, pottery and stained glass.

Thank you Stacy for preserving the spirit of the farm in so many wonderful ways!