Preparing for a fresh start
Moscow-Pullman Daily News - 6/1/2019
June 01-- Jun. 1--The mother-son duo behind a "ReMARKable" business selling jams, jellies and sunflowers at the Moscow Farmers Market will be launching a new enterprise in the fall -- farm fresh eggs.
Denise Wetzel said she started ReMARKable Farms shortly after moving to Moscow in 2011 as a way of investigating a possible avenue of self-employment for her son Mark, now 18, who has autism.
Mark's parents have started a fundraising campaign in hopes of building a small, pasture-raised duck and chicken egg business that Mark can help operate to support himself.
Standing just south of 6 feet, Mark has a black brush of a mustache and carries himself with a slight stoop. Though his use of language is limited to short, expressive words or phrases, Wetzel said Mark is competent at carrying out a series of tasks that have a clear beginning and end.
"It's important to be thinking ahead, because most people with disabilities are not going to have a 9-to-5, 40-hour-a-week job," Wetzel said. "Self-employment can be great for people with disabilities because of the flexibility -- you work as much or as little as you are able and can decide what you want to do."
When they founded ReMARKable Farms, Wetzel said she started off selling sunflowers raised on borrowed land, as well as jams and jellies made from raspberries, blackberries and huckleberries -- anything she could forage or grow for herself.
The family has since settled on a small farm just outside of Moscow surrounded by rustic old barns, dairy cows and the dry-paper rustle of nearby cottonwood trees that whip into a roar like the sound of a waterfall when the wind sweeps through.
Were it not for the University of Idaho'sTheophilus Tower peeking over the shoulder of a nearby hill, it would be easy to believe the little 4.3-acre plat was in a remote corner of the Palouse, even though it sits on the edge of city limits.
If all goes as planned, the little farm will feature two new coops in the fall that will be home to around 100 chickens and ducks with eggs ready to sell by May 2020. The Wetzels hope to raise $14,100 to build the business, which will include four coops in total, a duck pond and around 300 birds when finished. As of late May, they had raised just more than $1,700.
"We're just going to go slow and just feel out the market and see if it's a good fit," Wetzel said. "Some people say they have trouble selling duck eggs, so obviously if we can't sell the duck eggs as well, maybe we'll just do more chickens."
Mark is set to graduate this month from Moscow High School, where he has been practicing the skills needed to run the farm -- measuring out feed, filling cartons and harvesting plastic eggs from beneath stuffed chickens. According to Mark's instructors, he is ready to begin working with live animals.
"I am confident he has learned the basic skills that are needed," MHS special education teacher Cory Voss wrote in a letter to Mark's parents. "All that he needs now is the real chickens and ducks to get started."
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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