Logo & Packaging: The Shelburne Honey Company

I met Tim Smith and Courtney Basil of Apex Orchards last winter, at a marketing workshop I taught with CISA. While a lot of the farmers in attendance were just starting out, Tim and Courtney were there representing a farm that had been in business since 1828. Tim is a fourth-generation farmer, and Courtney helps him manage the operation, which is largely focused on apples and other tree fruits.

Marketing a farm with so much history is an interesting challenge, as the needs of modern consumers and the rich heritage of a place press up against each other. One area of the business Tim and Courtney really felt needed updating was their honey products, which are sold under the name The Shelburne Honey Company. The delicious honey was lacking a consistent logo, and the labeling needed a refresh.

Tim has been producing honey since 1972, and wanted to maintain the heritage of the locally established honey, while making sure his products were standing out on shelf. The original label included hand drawn floral details by his aunt, which I thought was really special. I thought playing with the original design would be a great way to transition the products into a new era, while still paying homage to its roots.

I spent a lot of time cleaning the original floral drawings up, rearranging, and creating a brand new logo out of them:

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Tim, Courtney and I really liked the results; it felt like a great balance of old and new. When applied to labeling, it really cleaned the products up and made them look like a family.

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We used the established Apex Orchards red color to draw a subtle connection to the main business, and color-coded the banners to distinguish between different products: Original, Clover, and Creamed Honey.

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I really like the way they all look together, and can’t wait to see them printed out and on the shelf in the fall!

Branding: Field Notes

When I first met Joan and Kyle of Field Notes, we were still in a February deep freeze. I shuffled over a very solid layer of Hudson Valley ice to the Lansing Farm greenhouse, where it was nice and warm and smelled like dirt. Joan and Kyle pointed out all their varieties of newly started plants, which naturally flowed into their many plans for Field Notes’ second season of farm dinners: the seedlings were destined to feed many mouths this summer, after all.

Field Notes was established when the two chefs came to Colonie, New York from Vermont, looking to gain a better appreciation of where the food they were cooking came from. They did this by teaming up with the Lansing Farm family to establish a farm-to-table restaurant, using crops grown right on the farm to serve weekly meals on the same land. The first year was a success, with many delicious meals and memorable evenings against the backdrop of wildflowers and farm sunsets, and they were looking forward to expanding in their second year. They knew it was the right time to refresh their brand, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

We wanted the new logo and branding to not only reflect the beautiful experience of a rustic dinner on the farm, but also the hard work that goes into harvesting and preparing a meal. Joan and Kyle are big believers in understanding what goes into growing and raising the food we eat, and aim to tell that story with every meal. Their branding should of course do the same.

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In developing the logo, I wanted to give significance to the elements of those meals, as the ingredients journey from soil to plate. This approach really gives the details of that process an elegance, and makes it clear that there is a whole lot that goes into a well-prepared feast.

In the branding process, we expanded that concept even further, making the illustrations of the farm, kitchen and table elements front and center, translating them well into secondary logos and pattern, all in deep eggplant and leafy green colors that evoke the pallet of a late summer harvest.

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This really came together in the menu design, which showcases Field Notes’ ever-changing and artful preparations of the freshest ingredients available.

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And, because we didn’t want the warm, intimate aura of a summer farm dinner to be lost, this additional illustration is going to work in concert with the rest of the branding to call to mind those late moonlit evenings filled with laughter, good food, and great company.

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I am so pleased with the way this project came out, and am grateful to Joan and Kyle for inspiring me with their vision and then turning me loose with it. It was a fun one to work on and I can’t wait to see it come to life as they kick off their 2019 season!

Special Offer for CISA Local Heroes!

CISA has been doing some incredible work in the Western Massachusetts community for 25 years, providing resources and support for the local farmers that feed us all. Most notably, they’ve established the Local Heroes campaign, which is the country’s longest running and most comprehensive “buy local” program for farm products. Farms, restaurants, retailers, and more join together to raise awareness and sales of locally grown products.

Good news if you’re part of that awesome movement - The Homegrown Studio has partnered with CISA to offer Local Hero members 15% off any graphic design or branding project! Let’s work together to tell your story, and tell the larger story of what it means to farm, buy, and eat locally.

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Send me a note if you’re a Local Hero and want to take advantage of this offer, I’m booking projects for January. Winter is the best time to develop your branding and marketing, and prepare for a bountiful 2019 season!

AND, I’ll be teaching a branding workshop through CISA this February! Stay tuned for details.

 

Logo Design: Riverwood Farm

The day I met Diego, I hopped in his farm truck and he drove us down a winding wooded path in Haydenville, leading to his one-acre plot of farm land along the Mill River. Riverwood Farm was in the August thick of it’s first full growing season, and it looked to be going well: tomatoes hung full and ripe from their vines, corn reached towards the towering trees above, and baby fall greens were already popping up in straight rows.

Diego had reached me through Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, CISA, which is an incredible resource for farmers in the Pioneer Valley. He’d been receiving support towards developing his business through their Beginning Farmer’s Program, which had guided him towards effectively branding his farm. That begins with a memorable logo, and I was so glad to hear from him when he saw my work and felt like it’d be a good match.

I was impressed by how much Diego was accomplishing on his acre in the woods; Riverwood Farm is truly a one man operation. He runs a no-till farm, as a means of keeping the soil healthy and fertile. The farm supplies vegetables to several local restaurants like Bistro Les Gras and The Freckled Fox Cafe. He also runs a farm stand up at Valley View Farm, making his fresh vegetables available to the community throughout the growing season.

Diego wanted his logo to be deeply personal, speaking to the hands-on, sustainable, small-scale operation he was running. His connection to the community and to his land needed to come through. So, what better way to do that than to put the farmer right in the logo?

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This illustration came to me first and most easily when I first began the process for this logo. I just drew what I had witnessed when I visited Riverwood Farm: Diego working his land by hand, under the shade of the forest by the river. Paired with a friendly hand drawn font, it instantly became full of personality. I was so glad he went with this option, I felt it suited his vision for the farm so well.

I won’t soon forget the other concepts for this project, though - here are the other three I presented to Diego.

They all paint a picture of Diego’s farm in their unique ways, but it’s the farmer in the chosen logo that really lets all that is at the core of Riverwood shine through.

I’m excited to see what’s next for Diego now that his brand is coming to life! Beginning farmers: make sure you get in touch with CISA, they have some incredible resources and grants that can take your farm and business to the next level. Take advantage! I’m looking forward to doing more with them in the future.

Images courtesy of Riverwood Farm

Logo Design: Rockingstone Farm

Rockingstone Farm in Barre, Mass. has just the kind of story I love - old local farmland being reenergized by a new generation. Lindsay Higgins first got into contact with me in the spring, looking to create a logo for the farm she and her family had been developing over the last year.

This effort has been particularly exciting for Lindsay because it is a new chapter in her family's history: the land was originally her grandfather's. The farmhouse was built in 1776, and now Lindsay and her husband Liam were working to create a farm and home of their own on the 100 acre property, and raise their two children there. They'd already been bottling and selling maple syrup from 350 trees, and opened a farm stand on Route 122.

The name Rockingstone Farm is after a natural landmark in Barre, just minutes down the road from the farm. Two boulders are balanced on top of the other in a seemingly impossible way; a teetering monument in the woods. The spot has been visited by generations in Lindsay's family; she sent me this photo of her mother at the rocking stones in the '70s, and also one of her children playing there today. 

For this reason, it was important to Lindsay that the rocks be incorporated in the logo, and the unique namesake was immediately where I wanted to go with the project. It proved to be no easy task though - rocks aren't always the easiest subjects to draw. After pages and pages of doodling and countless attempts from every angle employing several mediums, a few renderings were finally starting to do the rocking stones and all their natural wonder some justice. 

Here's the final logo we agreed would be the face of Rockingstone Farm:

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The detailed ink drawing of the stones went beyond my typical style and comfort zone, but definitely described the rocks best. Maple leaves fall around the the rocks, speaking to the farm's current focus on maple syrup production. The traditional serif font nods towards the rich heritage and history behind the farm, but a clean, sharp layout keeps things modern as the next generation builds a future. I think this will be the start of a strong brand for the farm, representing all it has been and all it's going to be. 

I came up with a wide variety of options for this logo, playing with the best ways to describe and incorporate the rocks, and suggesting some different directions all together. Both Lindsay and I liked the concept that incorporated the old red barn on Route 122, but agreed the rocks should be given priority. Hoping we can still use the barn illustration in some future pieces!

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I'm very excited with the concept Lindsay chose, and can't wait to see how she uses it to brand her farm. 

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Higgins

The Farm in 35mm: Spring

A few days post-solstice, I'm looking back on spring at the farm via a fresh envelope of 35mm prints. It all began with our magnolia tree bursting into bloom and concluded with bowlfuls of strawberries, the days in between flaunting all shades of pinks and greens.

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That last one is my favorite, my little meerkat Jesse in his jungle. 

36 exposures later summer came right on cue, muggy days giving way to dramatic afternoon storms. I'm trying my best to slow the days down and enjoy tomatoes, fireflies, trail rides, and swimming holes to the fullest. Capturing what I can on a roll of film certainly helps.

 

A Quick Escape from Winter

Winter on the farm means pulling on my heavy insulated overalls, breaking through frozen water bucket after frozen water bucket, lugging hay out to barren pastures, and a host of other frigid, less-fun chores that often leave me dreaming of a warmer escape. Luckily there is one nearby that I can always count on, offering chilled bones and runny noses some tropical humidity, lush flora, and soft white light from every direction. That's the Botanic Garden at Smith College.

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I spent the 20 degree morning on Saturday getting the horses set up for the day out in their frosted pasture (they don't mind), and arrived home chilly but game to finish a little last minute holiday shopping with Jake in downtown Northampton. The weekend before Christmas, you can imagine the chaos. Pushing through Thornes at noontime I was still pretty frozen and feeling sleepy. We made the executive decision that the only good, right place to be in that town at that moment was the Botanic Garden.

Passing through the first door to the Warm Temperate House, the first deep breath of dewy air is like a drug. How had we forgotten August so quickly? Layers are shed in the heat, attention turned to the omnipresent plant life. Every shade of green, every strange variety, blooming from the ground, creeping along walls, and cascading from the ceiling. 

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The greenhouses became a labyrinth, and we wandered along the paths from glass door to glass door. The stillness was such a relief after being caught up in a swell of panicked shoppers downtown, plants oblivious to the number of days until Christmas. 

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I felt so much better after submerging in that tropical cleanse for an hour, fingers, toes, and mood thoroughly defrosted. Green plant life, natural light, and warmth are actual medicine. (The happiest of memories are too. Jake and I went to the Botanic Garden on our first date.)

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This winter, don't forget about the Botanic Garden. Treat yourself to a little time in there and suddenly spring won't seem so far away.

Custom Holiday Cards

It's hard to believe how quickly Christmas is coming...I hate to rush it, Thanksgiving pies not even in the oven yet, but I'm already starting to feel the pressure of everything that needs to get done in December. 

I did get a jump start on my holiday greeting cards this year! A little line drawing of my barn. And, I'm taking orders for custom cards! If you want your farm (or home, or studio, or cat, or anything) on the front instead of mine, drop me a note! I think it's a nice personal, but subtle, take on holiday correspondence. 

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37 days until Christmas...? Place your orders soon!

Summer in 35mm

I did a lot of film photography this summer, hardly touching my DSLR once. In the age of iPhone auto focus and Instagram filters I admit film has become more of a pain in the neck, but man is it worth it when you pick up an envelope of freshly developed color prints and go through images you forgot you had even taken weeks before. The hues, grain, glow and imperfections (slight, hopefully) are something you simply can't reach with digital cameras, and it (almost) always feels well worth the extra effort and patience.

Here's a few of my favorite 35 mm shots I took on my Nikon this summer:

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(the roll from the Vermont Road Trip was extremely tragic, full of split frames, light leaks, and scratches. I like this "dyptic" though.)

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This week, the first roll of 120 film taken with my Brimfield TLR will be ready! Fingers crossed.

Cucumber Days

It's mid-July and I'm elbow deep in cucumbers; they're filling the drawers in my fridge and many more continue to sprout off the vine everyday. They never stop - but they're so good. 

Picklers are the favorite around here, but I've never actually pickled. Anyone want to teach me?

Simple, delicious cucumber salad: cukes + feta + mint + dill + salt + lemon juice + olive oil. Although I'm thinking of trying something more advanced

The cuke abundance is welcomed as deep summer humidity is bearing down upon us; lately I don't want to eat anything but cold cucumbers anyhow. Keep them coming, and getting anxious for ripe tomatoes to join them soon!