Wolf Farm Natural Elements –A Marketplace For Local Farm Products in Abingdon, VA

By Danielle Bussone

 

Steve and Becky Wolf are living their dream. After working in management positions for over 20 years, raising their kids and putting them through college, the empty nesters decided they wanted to get out of the rat race and the stress that comes with it and finally do something for themselves.  “There is still stress, of course,” says Steve, “because you’re running a business and you’re worried about finances, but it isn’t the same kind of stress. These are things we are controlling, rather than having to get something done for someone else.”

 

Steve and Becky Wolf

 

So, they moved to Abingdon, VA in the fall of 2008 and by the next spring they were living on their own farm. Steve had been a manager for a door and window manufacturer, and Becky had been in management for Walmart. Now they have taken their business experience and have opened a retail store, Wolf Farm Natural Elements, carrying farming supplies, animal feeds, fertilizers, minerals, plants, seeds, and just about anything you need for your garden or small farm.

 

 

From a modest beginning, about a year and a half ago they began selling their supplies from from their garage/warehouse at their farm, and at the Abingdon Farmers Market on Saturdays and Tuesdays. The carried their supplies in a two wheel covered trailer and sold them from the parking lot in town. “I felt like a drug dealer,” recounts Steve with a laugh. “Customers would come to my space at the market and I’d say, ‘meet me at the parking lot.’ They’d give me money and I’d give them a bag of feed.”

 

 

Locally grown organic flower plants, herbs and vegetable starts, blueberry bushes, and planting supplies.

 

Wolf Farm Natural Elements sources its products as locally and sustainably as they possibly can. The Wolfs carry a variety of flower plants from an organic company, Blue Door owned by Tom and Deni Peterson, who also sell cut flowers at Abingdon Farmers Market. T & T Farms and Greenhouse, an organic operation owned by Tamara McNaughten, provides the Wolfs with blueberry bushes and vegetable starts. You can find Tamara on Saturdays at the farmers market in Abingdon as well with her array of food plants and freshly harvested organic vegetables.

 

 

 

Wolf Farm does carry an organic feed for horses, cows, chickens, sheep, rabbits, and so on. They also have another line that is an in-between line for some farmers. Its non-gmo certified. The seed is certified that it doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms but it may contain pesticides. It is an interim step for farmers who may eventually go organic but at present can’t spend the extra money for organic feeds that are significantly more expensive, $17.50 non-gmo vs $29.50 a bag for organic, a $12 difference in price. “New Country is starting to expand,” explains Steve. “They are putting in a new mill in Texas where they’ll be able to source more organic material down there and between the two plants they’ll have less freight costs.”

 

 

Richard Moyer of Moyer Farms provides organic seeds for Southern Seed Exchange out of Mineral, VA, which is where Wolf Farms Natural Elements sources all of their seeds. The Moyers also offer a wide variety of vegetables and mushrooms at the farmers market. Fingerling and seed potatoes are provided to Wolf Farm by New Sprouts Organic from Black Mountain, just outside Asheville, NC, and they get all of their feeds from New Country Organics of Waynesboro, VA.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolfs carry a lot of quality tools, such as a Japanese digging tool. It has a cove to the blade so you can dig with it like a trowel, you can cut with it, harvest cabbage or lettuce heads with it, just an all round tool which comes in both stainless or tempered steel.

The other tools come from Yoeman and Company out of Iowa, also called Yo-Ho. Wolf Farm Natural Elements’ warehouse is packed with fertilizers, including all-purpose, specialty fertilizers with concentrated nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium, minerals to build up magnesium or calcium, lime, diatomaceous earth, kelp, all kinds of animal minerals, chicken scratch, worm castings, potting soil, seed starter mixes, trays, peat baskets, etc. “We try to have as much certified organic OMRI listed (Organic Materials Research Institute) products as possible, meaning they are acceptable products for use in organic farming practices.”

 

 

As well as quality products from responsible vendors, Steve and Becky produce some products of their own; soaps, body butters, natural hand sanitizers and a lavender mist that is wonderful for adding a non-toxic scent to towels and sheets.

Whatever your farm needs, do yourself a favor and visit Wolf Farm Natural Elements. You can support your local community by shopping at a market dedicated to supporting local organic businesses. This helps to expand an ever-widening web of interconnectedness that puts money back into our own community in a cycle that benefits everyone. This is a model I’m hoping will continue to expand.

Wolf Farm Natural Elements, located at 25245 Lee Highway, in Abingdon, VA opened on April 1 of this year and celebrated its grand opening on Earth Day.

 

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Whole Health Natural Foods — Now Located Near The Virginia Creeper Trail!

by Laura Blankenship

 

Chris In Doorway

Chris, long-time employee of Whole Health Natural Foods, welcomes customers to the new store.

 

NEW LOOK, NEW LOCATION, SAME INTENTION

This June Whole Health Natural Foods store (aka Whole Health Center) opened at its brand new location in the heart of Abingdon.  Conveniently situated between I-81 exits 17 and 19, the new location is nestled between neighboring restaurant 128 Pecan—a fun, casual spot with some vegetarian dishes and a vegan option or two—and the trailhead of the beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail.

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We are sorry to report that Ecolicious is no longer in business. Ecolicious – Charlotte, NC’s Most Environmentally Friendly Market Is Locally Sourced!

by Danielle Bussone

 

In one of the cutest little houses located in the heart of Charlotte is a general store like no other. From its humble beginning as a few shelves containing only a few items, housed within another business, Ecolicious has come into its own. “We came about just over three years ago,” says Ecolicous founder, Marley Claridge.  “My former partner and I saw a need in Charlotte for a place to buy vegan things. We started out with just a few items on a few shelves. Then people kind of took to it. I wanted to make it larger, and nicer, with more of a boutique feel to it. More than just a convenient store look.”

 

Ecolicious Exterior

Ecolicious Exterior

 

Marley has done just that. After her early partnership dissolved, she joined up with long time friend,  Fiona Humphrey,  who had previously worked in finance. Fiona had planned to sell her house and move to Oregon. As luck, or fate, would have it, the market crashed and selling her home was no longer an option. The opportunity to partner with Marley presented itself and the rest is Ecolicous history. The two share a vision for the company which has continued to foster a relationship with the community and an awareness of how our purchasing decisions impact our lives, the lives of innocent animals and the health of our planet. Buying locally affects our carbon footprint as well, which is a credo for the fledgeling business.

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Love Your Farmers Market? Bill McKibben Says Thank Wendell Berry

Here is a great interview from Bill Moyers on Farmers Markets

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Natural Imports of Asheville, NC is the Go To Market for Authentic Japanese Culinary Fare

 

By Danielle Bussone

 

Once in a blue moon I’ll discover a truly unique gem of a resource that I simply feel duty bound to share with the world. Natural Imports of Asheville, NC, is one such discovery. Natural Imports is a purveyor of traditional Japanese culinary products of the highest caliber. Great care is taken to assure excellence, offering foods of a medicinal quality, prepared in time honored traditions by skilled Japanese craftsmen. Mass production and quicker, low-quality methods are threatening the livelihoods of these Japanese artisans, who prepare foods using the principal of Ishoku Dogen, “medicine and food have the same source.”  You’ll find no mass market food and no arsenic laden Chinese seaweed here, only traditionally crafted products and sea vegetables grown in deep waters of Japan, protected for centuries with organic, sustainable practices.

 

Natural Imports Interior

Natural Imports Interior

 

Bruce MacDonald, now semi-retired, is the founder of Natural Imports. His daughter, Crystal, has been his partner and business manager since its inception in 1993, since she was 19 years old. Crystal speaks fluent Japanese and is a wealth of information about all aspects of how the seaweed is harvested, the medicinal and nutritional ingredients of every product, the sustainability practices of her suppliers and any glitch that effects the ecosystem and thereby affecting the quality of their products. She is a dynamic powerhouse who stays on top of all issues pertaining to Natural Imports.

 

Crystal MacDonald

Crystal MacDonald

 

Crystal essentially grew up in the business. Her parents divorced when she was young and she spent summers working at Commodities, a Japanese import store Bruce owned in New York City, where she learned about Japanese food. Bruce had previously worked for Erehwon in Boston, which was the original importer of natural foods in the US and subsequently for Erehwon West in California and later for Bread and Circus, which was sold to become the original Whole Foods Market.

 

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Whole Health Center, Abingdon, VA

by Danielle Bussone

If you find yourself  low on organic supplies while tooling down Interstate 81, pull off at exit 19 in Abingdon, Virginia and stock up! Just a couple minutes from the Interstate on Main Street is a small family owned health food store called Whole Health Center. You can find organic bulk items, some fresh locally grown vegetables, packaged items like Bob’s Mills grains, coconut oils, date sugar, Braggs Amino Acids, Coconut oil, essential oils, soaps and the ubiquitous shelves of supplements.

Sean and Donna Bossie bought Whole Health Center two years ago from, Charlie, its former owner of 27 years. They had been visiting Abingdon from North Conway, New Hampshire, where they owned a coop. Their daughter had moved to Abingdon where she teaches school. The winters in New Hampshire on White Mountain were as brutal as the name suggests. Their children were grown and moved away and there didn’t seem to be much tying them to their home in the north. When Charlie commented one day, “You know, if you ever want to move closer to those grandbabies…  I’m thinking of selling if you are thinking of possibly buying,” the wheels begin to turn in the Bossie’s brains. After a year of negotiating through snail mail (Charlie was not computer savvy), Whole Health Center became theirs and Abingdon, Virginia became home. (more…)

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