As it was with many around the world, our family found 2020 to be a tumultuous time. Due to all of the issues surrounding the pandemic, as well as building our new homestead during the midst of it, blog posts were not done as previously planned. It is my hope to rectify this oversight.
To get things started with the new blog, I thought it best to start from the beginning of the Ullberg Family Farm and the process of how we have gotten to where we are today.
Magnus comes from a long line of beekeepers in Sweden. His paternal grandparents were the first, sharing their interest with both of their kids and respective families. Magnus’s uncle, Kurt, keeps bees at the same homestead to this day. Now, Magnus’s parents, brother, and sister are all beekeepers in Sweden.
During one of our trips to visit the family, we helped Kurt run an open-house for beekeepers in Sweden. That event, back in 2014 or so, gave Magnus the idea that maybe we too could keep bees here in the US. Looking at the rules for keeping bees within the city limits, we found that it was indeed possible to do so and we started with one colony. Bee math is similar to chicken math in that one colony soon expanded to three, then five, and eventually we were setting up hives offsite to increase our bee population.
Bees, of course, produce honey – enough one season that we needed to find a place to sell it. It was at that point that we discovered selling at the Wilson Farmer’s Market in order to reduce our overstock. In the process, we created formal labels with our new company name and started our “farm” in earnest. We added creamed honey to our lineup shortly after, something that is somewhat unusual in this area but is the norm in Sweden. As we continued to sell honey, our customers started asking about other products. Shortly after, I started experimenting with new products from the hive, including raw beeswax, lipbalms, and honey soap.
Things were progressing well until things happened that encouraged us to move out of the city and get our own land. Kids were getting older, we needed more space, and our neighbor had recently purchased a white car (bees poop bright yellow) so it was time. We bought our land in 2018 and begun the process of building our farmhouse in 2020. Move in day was in late March, 2021 and we were thrilled. Today, we are mostly moved in (boxes.. lots of boxes..) and have really worked to get the farm up and running.
The permanent fields include tea, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, hardy kiwi, strawberries, asparagus, and horseradish. This season, we also had corn, peanuts, zucchini, watermelon, cucumbers, and a few tomatoes. Animal-wise, we added a dog and cat to the family and introduced chickens to the farm in May. We have several plans in the works; funding for an agriculture well and greenhouse are being pursued while the fields for an expanded strawberry patch, garlic, and next year’s crops are all being prepared.
The transition from city-life to full-fledged farmer has been an interesting one for our family, especially given our lack of broadband access during the pandemic. Magnus spends most of his free time (ha!) working on a perimeter fence or watching YouTube tutorials on things to do around the farm, while I tend to be found in the fields clearing weeds and mowing. Sadly, neither kid has picked up the urge to help around the farm much. For all of the chores we do, we still have much to accomplish – what exactly did we do with our “free” time before moving out here?!?
As we’ve been busy expanding our farmstead and establishing crops, we’ve not been able to be out at the Farmer’s Market in Wilson this season. Meeting with our customers and educating people of all ages about bees was always a highlight of my week and I hope we’ll be established enough next season to go back.
So I said at the beginning of this post that it’s my hope to keep the blog updated. I’m not certain what content will be added here but if there are any ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Beyond our page, we also have a Facebook page that gets updated significantly more often, as well as a neglected Instagram account. If you’re one of our loyal followers on any of our accounts, we appreciate the support you’ve shown our family as we grow the farm and business.
We aren’t sure what our future will hold. Will we become an agritourist site like some have asked? Will we become an educational location to help kids learn about farming? Or will we simply stay small while we sell our goods to loyal customers and family? Anything is possible for us at this point – we just have to wait and see where things take us.