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How Caring for a Sick Child made me an Entrepreneur

How Caring for a Sick Child made me an Entrepreneur
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Jump to: Farm to Jar Team Profiles

Thank you so much for checking out my labor of love. It’s been a journey for sure, filled with the ups and downs that life hands out.

I certainly didn’t start out loving to cook and as far as gardening went…..well my first experience with gardening was to buy a 6-pack of tomatoes, plant them whole as the 6-pack and then watch them die, haha.

That all changed when my daughter was born. She was born with only one working ventricle in her heart and was going to require indefinite hands-on care. We assessed our financial situation and decided it would make more sense for me to quit my state job as my husband’s salary was going to be needed to get through what laid before us.

Well, that was all fine and good, but I found I needed something of my own to aspire to as I tended to my daughter’s various surgeries and health issues. We happened to live on 23 acres of weed-infested land so I decided to roll up my sleeves and become a farmer! That way I could stay home and take care of her, but still have a personal ”career”.

I knew I was really a farmer when I had the conversation with my young son on what he wanted to be when he grew up. After posing the question to him, he sat there in deep thought. I then said ”Do you want to be a farmer?” He looked at me incredulously and said ”No way! That’s a girl’s job”

Dorothy and son after a hike in Colrado.
My son (all grown up now) and I after a hike in Colorado

Over time, I did learn how to grow tomatoes from seed rather than a 6-pack, and turned the acreage into a nice little farm. I sold my fruits and veggies at the larger farmers’ markets in the Twin Cities (still do as a matter of fact), and built a commercial kitchen on the farm to turn the produce into fresh preserves, spices and sauces.

My daughter got to grow up with a parent at her side, and although she is not ”cured”, she is leading a very productive life as a social worker in the Colorado school system.

Me (mom) and my daughter in Tucson, Arizona.
Tesla (my daughter) and I on vacation in 2019

I on the other hand have never returned to corporate, but have evolved and pivoted in a number of directions that all started with the farm.

Had to learn to cook all that fresh produce right? So these days I share and publish my experiences with food, health and gardening on my blog, “Farm to Jar”. I also sell those fresh preserves and spices at my online site, ”HeathGlen”. Oh, and I visit both kids in Colorado every chance I get. Neither one of them wanted to take on that girly work of farming!

The Team that Makes it Happen These Days

While the kids were young my business was pretty small and I was what’s now called a ”solopreneur”. As they left home I started focusing on the business of farming and publishing more and hence started to grow.

Well I’m no longer a solopreneur (thank goodness!). I have a truly awesome team that is helping the business grow exponentially. This means I can share more with you! More recipes, more gardening info, more products, more health and diet tips.

So, let me introduce you to the team:

Mari Puts (with bird on her shoulder), writer at Farm to Jar.
Mari Puts, writer at Farm to Jar

Mari (Marijke) Puts, writer and researcher extraordinaire, is from the Netherlands but has been calling Spain her home for the past 4 years. She has taken over many of the gardening posts and is adding a Spanish influence to the newer recipes (see the paella and gazpacho posts). You’ll be seeing more and more articles from Mari on Farm to Jar, but you can also reach her individually on LinkedIn.

Head shot of Farm to Jar developer, Susan Metoxen.
Susan Metoxen, developer/designer

Susan Metoxen is a PHP/mySQL, and WordPress developer (and so much more). Susan has been the solid go-to person for any technical website problems, and she brought a lot of graphic design knowledge to Farm to Jar also. In addition to her work for Farm to Jar, Susan is an adjunct instructor at Saint Paul College in the Computer Science Department. Her focus is on website education, and you can see her curriculum and blog at Susan has 30 years of experience in healthcare administration and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas.

Farm manager at Farm to Jar loading plants onto table.
Dustin Nelson, Farm Manager at HeathGlen

Dustin Nelson comes from a Iowa farming background and in 2021 he signed on with Farm to Jar as the farm manager I always wanted. Dustin has become indispensable to the business as he has not only taken over much of the farm work, but has also stepped into the market sales and the preserve making in the commercial kitchen. Having Dustin has made my life sooo much better, and I can now devote more time to sharing recipes and visiting my kids!

Tesla Stainbrook, daughter and Farm to Jar partner, holding a cocktail.
Tesla Stainbrook, co-partner at Farm to Jar.

Tesla Stainbrook, my daughter and partner at Farm to Jar. Tesla has done just about every job there is in the business, from market sales to video production to writing posts, to picking up rocks in the field! Although she has a full time job as a social worker in the Colorado school system, she still manages to keep a finger in most aspects of our business. That’s why she’s a co-partner! She is sharing her social work experiences in her own blog, Working in Schools Emotionally

If you want to connect further with us, we do share information at our You Tube channel, on instagram reels, or on tik tok.

Cheers! Ciao! Happy Trails!

Explore the sites, comment if you want to start a conversation, and remember…..

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” ——Julia Child

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Thursday 12th of January 2023

What a nice write up on what you do and how you got there! I admire your discipline and dedication. I have learned a LOT from you over the years and I really appreciate you. Keep up the good work!

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 13th of January 2023

Thank you Beth. It’s so important to me to know that someone is benefitting in any way from the things I share. Truly appreciate the comment and I hope to keep on swimming for quite a while.


Thursday 8th of December 2022

Kudos on your how-to's for heirloom tomatoes. It is the best!

Wednesday 4th of January 2023

@Duane, Thank you so much. I’m planning on getting deeper into heirloom tomato growing in 2023 so stay tuned.

Loretta Ottinger

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Dorothy, I found your scallop and spinach recipe and going to try it tonight. When I look at the photo in the recipe it appears to show pasta underneath the spinach. Curious if the only two items you serve for this meal are the scallops and spinach or do you add pasta? I just lost six pounds by watching my carbs (I was about 10 pounds overweight) and trying to keep meals simple and low-carb. BTW, I love your bio, great journey.

Wednesday 4th of January 2023

@Loretta Ottinger, I think what you are seeing is onions in the cream sauce. It looks a bit like pasta but I didn’t serve these with pasta when on the slow carb diet.

Annette Lynch

Friday 4th of February 2022

Happened to stumble upon your website recently. I come from a long line of small farmers and home gardeners, and heirloom tomatoes are one of my passions. I live in NW Pennsylvania, which is sometimes a difficult area for gardening - short growing season, humid, etc. Your advice is spot on! My second passion is genealogy, so I was amused to see the name Stainbrook. We have been overrun with Stainbrooks here since the late 1790's, including some of my direct ancestors. Maybe the urge to grow things is in the genes!

Annette Lynch, Meadville, PA

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 4th of February 2022

Ah, that is so interesting Annette! I don’t hear of that many Stainbrooks here in Minnesota. Heirloom tomatoes are a good passion to have aren’t they? Thank you for the comment and letting me know that my advice works in NW Pennsylvania also!



Friday 15th of October 2021

Hi Dorothy is it very challenging to start tomato farming at commercial scale.

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 15th of October 2021

Hi Angelbeth, tomato farming on a commercial scale will depend on many, many different factors for success. If you are going to make money selling at farmers markets you need to be near a large city with an active market. Then you need to look at the saturation of the market. In terms of physical variations, the challenge might come in your knowledge base, your soil type, and the scale you want to grow at. It’s pretty impossible to answer that question on a broad scale, and would require specific information on your goals, your growing situation, your investment capability, your equipment, team, zone, variety of tomatoes, etc. etc.

I would suggest you start with your local extension service and gather information and then lay out your specific goals and timeline. My situation is going to be very different than yours.

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