Updated: Jun 17
Dustin and Amanda Michelle have taken their passion for homesteading to the next level by offering their farm-produced products for sale. (Photo by Roger Sims, Linn County Journal)
One of the stops on Saturday’s Linn County Farm Tour was Rocky Suns Farm, located a mile west of Kansas Highway 7 on 2200 Road and the Cadmus Grange hall.
The farm, named partly after the rocky soil and partly after owners Dustin and Amanda Michelle’s four young sons, was bustling last week as the couple worked the garden, tended the plants in several greenhouses and made sure the shop on the site was ready for a new season.
Dustin was tilling a portion of the three acres the couple devotes to growing vegetables, including an acre of sweet corn, as a flock of ducks roamed the yard grazing. The boys were playing in the yard, and Amanda had a host of things to tend to in preparation for the tour.
The Michelles sell most of the vegetables, eggs, and plants the farm produces at their store on the 10-acre farm. Although they also sell at the farmers’ market on the square in Paola on Saturday evenings during season, the store is still the couple’s main retail outlet.
The items the couple sells reflect the homesteading way of life they chose to lead about a decade ago.
“We have a passion for homesteading, so we do as much as we can,” said Amanda.
Three years ago, the couple decided to take that passion to a new level and began producing enough to sell. Amanda is the driving force behind marketing Rocky Suns, and Dustin works construction in the metro area in addition to pitching in when he’s home. He hopes at some point to make the farm generate enough money that he can work at home full time.
The Michelles have been working toward year round production, using some of their greenhouses for growing cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, collards, spinach, and micro greens. They began having produce to sell in February.
During the off season, the shop stays open selling baked goods, candy, soap, and jams and jellies. For Christmas, they sell gift items, mostly homemade. The candy selection – which includes chocolates and lollipops – makes a return for Valentines's day in February.
Rocky Suns also offers chicken, beef raised on Dustin’s parents farm, and pork products raised at Castle Farms in Pleasanton – another stop on Saturday’s tour.
The couple says one of the biggest challenges is marketing their goods. “Sometimes we have a big weekend, and other weekends we have trouble getting people here.”
Dustin said that part of the plan is to expand the farm’s produce production.
People who visit like the full-farm experience they are offered. Self-guided tours around the property give visitors a chance to enjoy the fresh air.
Amanda said the farm is beginning to offer field trips for groups, and it is also hosting birthday parties. In addition, the farm is growing a network of community supported agriculture (CSA) members, who regularly receive produce and other goods for a subscription fee, as well as offering supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits.