Raccoon Forks Farms plans February 23 pop-up folk art sale

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Raccoon Forks Farms will hold a pop-up art sale at its Adel greenhouse from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. The greenhouse is located at 401 Visions Parkway in Adel, next to Optimae Lifeservices.

Raccoon Forks Farms’ folk art creations are unique and often refer to nature. They include pieces such as wall hangings of animal silhouettes, inspirational messages and the American flag, along with popular items such as squirrel feeders and mail holders.

Some of the artworks are painted, while others are varnished or left plain to highlight the wood grain. The Farms’ handmade soap will also be available for purchase at the pop-up sale.

Local residents are likely familiar with Raccoon Forks Farms’ Redfield farm, where produce, eggs and pastured meat animals are raised. But folk art?

“We started making folk art two winters ago as a way to keep our farmers employed through the winter,” said Raccoon Forks Farms Manager Beth Buscher.

Raccoon Forks Farms is a microbusiness of Optimae LifeServices and provides employment opportunities and job coaching to Optimae customers with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities who wish to work in agriculture.

Buscher said a consistent work environment is helpful to employees.

“Being a farming operation, we are mostly seasonal,” she said. “We wanted to create a work environment that was stable so our farmers could work with us year round.”

Buscher said having more products helps support the Farms in its mission to serve Optimae customers.

The Raccoon Forks farmers use reclaimed wood to make their creations. According to Lead Job Coach Jeff Hay, free and inexpensive lumber is sourced from friends, family, previous employees and Craigslist.

“We like to use reclaimed wood because it has a lot of established character, it reduces our carbon footprint and it’s cheaper than new,” Hay said. “It’s always fun to see what the reclaimed wood looks like under all the dirt and weathering.”

Hay said the creative process involves “collaborating with other people with different talents to get to the final product.”

Raccoon Forks Farms’ greenhouse in Adel is used most of the year to start seedlings and grow vegetable plants. The Farms will hold a plant sale there May 11, the day before Mother’s Day.

Raccoon Forks Farms raises seedlings, produce, eggs, and meat animals – and makes folk art and soap – at farms in Redfield and Runnells. The Farms’ products are sold through community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares and at the downtown Perry farmers market, among other venues. Brick Street Books and Cafe in Adel serves as one of the pick-up sites for Raccoon Forks Farms’ CSA shares.

For more information about the pop-up folk art sale or Raccoon Forks Farms, contact Harriett Dickey-Chasins at 515-729-8664 or rforksfarm@gmail.com. Additional information is available on the Raccoon Forks Farms website.

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