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Welcome to the Family

March 7, 2023

The last few years at Sunflower Sundries have been all about growth. My daughter Olivia married her husband, Josh Thornsburg, in October of 2021. Nine months later we welcomed the arrival of their first baby (a boy!), Judah Lee Thornsburg. In April of 2022, my son Elliot married his wife Emili. We all celebrated together in Austin over three lovely nights in the warm Texas air. My heart is so full as I write this.

Over the last two years I have been working with my son-in-law, Josh, teaching him the ins-n-outs of the business and imparting to him the subtle wisdom that comes from 31 years of making soap, jam, etc. We’ve rendered tallow, made soap, harvested gooseberries, made hominy, cared for asparagus and even took a long road trip to Toledo to deliver corn for our chips! The jobs here on Sunflower Sundries farm are endless, but it is soul-filling work and it makes us feel joyous.

The first time Josh came to visit the farm I knew in my heart he would be the one to take over the family business. It was only a couple months later that Olivia and Josh were standing in our kitchen on the Friday before Halloween, surprising us with the request that Jim and I be witnesses at their wedding which was scheduled for 3 pm that afternoon!

They honeymooned that following week here at the farm, and by Thanksgiving we were all surprised to find out that they were expecting a baby! The next nine months felt like a dream as I watched my daughter’s belly grow and my son-in-law set to learning the business and growing his first crop (beans) in the home garden.

The arrival of Judah has brought us all so much laughter and happiness. His sunny disposition has made Olivia and Josh’s transition into parenthood seem calm and natural while they work on taking over a family business. Judah bounces in his jumper as we send emails and update the website, rolls around on the ping-pong table while we ship orders, and sleeps in his carriage as we shell corn. At two months old, Judah accompanied us on the 5-hour drive to Toledo where we delivered our Hickory King corn to our chip manufacturer. Not once on the whole drive did he cry or complain!

Starting a family and building a business are two very challenging things in life, yet the fulfillment we have experienced as a family makes all of the hard work and long days worth it. My children, Olivia and Elliot, were very young when I started Sunflower Sundries. When I look back, sometimes I wonder, "How did I do it?" As a family, I moved my children out of the city to a rural Kentucky farm, homeschooled them, and built Sunflower Sundries from the ground up in a little basement and an old dairy barn.

When you pursue your dreams, even the monumental tasks feel like blessings. To do what you love with your loved ones is the greatest blessing on Earth. Thirty-one years later I am in awe of the rich life I have cultivated here on Sunflower Sundries Farm and am grateful to see my family gather around me and learn from my experience how to carry on what I started.

Becoming an elder in a growing family is an initiation into a new phase of life that allows for me to embody where I am and continue to live with deep meaning and purpose. Those of you who know me will likely understand that I will probably never “retire” in the conventional sense of the word, but I am grateful to be standing at the threshold of transformation, evolution, and relaxation. There is so much in me that needs to find its way into the minds and hearts of my family and those who wish to learn how to homestead in the 21st century.

I have desired to nourish the world with our staple products and Open House events for over thirty years. Part of our growth here at Sunflower Sundries Farm is to embrace my next phase and capture the wisdom I have to share in a format that is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Some of the finest foods in the world come from our simple little farm. However, now it is time to teach the next generation how to do it themselves.

I am certain there will always be a market for good food and fine soap. The secrets of my trade have never really been secrets at all! They are simply traditional ways of living found in old books and a commitment to ancestral wisdom. In a conventional world where a flavorful strawberry is next to impossible to find unless you grow it yourself, what we do here at Sunflower Sundries has become increasingly rare. As our culture evolves further and further away from farm-to-table living, it is my goal as an elder to provide this knowledge to anyone who desires to learn. This is something you will see manifest in the coming years as Sunflower Sundries expands its way of providing nourishment for our community, locally and beyond.

Thank you for being a part of this journey and providing the reciprocal energy necessary for cultivating a business and legacy. I look forward to continuing this story with you as we pioneer new frontiers together.

View a curated collection of Josh and Olivia's favorite sundries celebrating the joys of growth and family in our Sundry Shop!


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