Old World Kitchen by Polder's Old World Market is a family affair. It's hard to say when it really started, because it came about so gradually. It's safe to say, though, that we gave our little cottage industry an official start when we named it Polder's Old World Market and got a professional sign made for our farmer's market booth in Melrose, Florida. That was in 2009.
We didn't have a website back then, although people asked us constantly if we had one, and when we were planning on starting one. We didn't know the first thing about websites, and we told people that we didn't think we'd probably have one anytime soon.
In the very beginning, we didn't even sell wooden spoons. We sold fresh baked goods, honey from our own beehives and little handpainted garden signs and stakes. We had a vision for something more exclusive, though... something that was really incredible, full of Old World flare and made with fine American craftsmanship. We started pouring over vintage engravings for inspiration, bantering back and forth about brand names we liked and dreaming of the products we would one day offer. We probably did everything backwards, but here we are.
Many people want to know why we even thought to start a cottage industry, and how we learned to make kitchen utensils. It's really amazing because 15 years ago...even 11 years ago...if you would have suggested that we would soon be farming and handcrafting gourmet kitchen utensils for a living, we would have laughed! Dad was the plant manager of a large railcar corporation and we lived on less than a half acre in a lakeside community in Florida. We didn't know anything about farming, and we knew almost nothing about woodworking. Dad had carved a big, rustic wooden spoon with his pocket knife for Mom once.
Dad and Mom had always dreamed of leaving the corporate world and moving onto a big farm to be self-sufficient, but it had just never happened. Then, the railcar plant closed down and we had to make the decision... Dad could either take an even better paying job traveling with the same company and be away from the rest of the family most of the time, or we could step back and do something altogether different. That wasn't an easy choice to make. We were used to the security of a steady paycheck. It was difficult to stick it out. Financially, things were extremely tight and we made a lot of difficult sacrifices. We learned the real difference between neccesities and luxuries, needs and wants. We are so grateful for that time now. Despite the difficulties, we realize that God wisely used that time to help us simplify and in a sense, become more real and authentic and it also helped us to define what we wanted to get out of life. It was during that time that the dream to move onto a farm and become self-sufficient was reawakened.
We started with baby steps. We bought chicks and rabbits. We planted our first garden in the Florida sand of our little yard. We poured over seed catalogs and learned about farm animal breeds and dreamed about making our own cheese and butter. We talked and talked, and talked some more about moving onto a farm. In the mean time, we had to make some extra money and we started going to local farmer's markets and festivals to sell baked goods and honey. It encouraged us to see that we could make money selling simple crafts and tomato seedlings, cranberry oatmeal cookies and honey. Thats when we made our first wooden spoons for sale.
Our first wooden spoons were carved with a pocket knife. We still have them, and they are my favorites. Then, we bought Dad a horrible set of bench chisels with orange handles for Christmas. Despite the fact they were not the right tools for the job, he put them to use. They were a bit of an upgrade from the pocket knife. In the mean time, people were noticing and buying our wooden spoons at the farmer's market and festivals we were going to! We were so elated. Caleb (18 at the time) was making wooden spoons along with Dad and everyone laughed to see that his spoons were decidedly the most popular and sold the quickest. He had such a unique style. We were highly motivated to expand our line and we started taking pictures of our wares and thinking about a website. More of us started making spoons and it was a bit of a friendly competition to see who's creations sold the fastest. It was around this time that we named our business Polder's Old World Market and set out to develop a real brand, though we had no idea where to start. We also bought our first set of beautiful Swiss-made gouges and chisels.
That's really the main story of how Old World Kitchen by Polder's Old World Market got started. Though we originally intended to offer a wide range of crafts...hand forged items, leathercraft, candles and more...we have found a niche with the wooden kitchenware and that is our specialty. We may offer other types of artisan craftsmanship in the future. Once we settled with focusing mainly on kitchenware, we added Old World Kitchen to our brand name, and even more recently, we've called our line dreamware because it's the kitchenware of your dreams. In 2011 we took a leap of faith and relocated from our tiny piece of property in Florida to a 100 acre farm in Tennessee. Now, when we aren't making gourmet kitchen utensils, you can find us gathering eggs or milking our Jersey cows, or horseback riding, or even making cheese (though it doesn't usually taste very good).
Old World Kitchen by Polder's Old World Market has grown in ways we never dreamed. We are so grateful to be able to work as a family, doing what we love. We are grateful for the hard lessons learned that brought us to this point, and for the opportunity afforded us. So many people only dream of being able to live the life we're living. It isn't perfect, but it's wonderful and we wouldn't trade it for anything. If we could give one piece of advice to families who dream of launching out into a similar lifestyle it would be this: Be brave, you only get to live life once. Don't be afraid to follow God when He arranges your circumstances to give you the opportunity of a lifetime. It won't be easy and it will almost certainly be terrifying at times, but it will be worth it.
Loving the journey,