Humans of Grand Island: tending herbs and chickens

On Monday, I went to the Grand Island Farmers Market, which is a weekly occurrence during the growing season. Here is the story of Sheila Olmstead Daminski, who owns Island Dreams Farm with her husband, Jerry.

How long have you been a farmer and how did you get into it?
I’ve been farming for one year, but I’ve been gardening all my life. I wanted to have chickens, and my dad had a friend named Tommy Thompson, who he introduced me to because he had chickens. A year and a half ago they were starting the Grand Island Farmers Cooperative, and the idea of a group of local farmers working together and me being able to learn from their years of experience was exciting.

Tell me about your herbs and about the herbal teas that you sell.
The majority of herbs are grown on my farm. They are grown organically.

They are sustainable.  Chicken poop, kitchen scraps, leaves, and farm byproducts are all composted to become fertilizer and feed the soil. My husband harvests and dries all of the herbs, and I manually process them and blend them to make the teas.

What do you enjoy most about farming?
It is joyful work. You’re connected to the animals that produce your food and the plants that you eat. You see the whole cycle, from seed to harvest.

What do you do when you’re not farming? 
I’m an IT director for a global communications management company. I manage the web design and development for websites and web applications.

You sell your products at the market. Tell me about your role with the farmers organization in Grand Island.

I’m the secretary for Grand Island Farms Inc. and I serve on the board of directors. I also manage the website and Facebook page. 

What sort of future do you see for farming in Grand Island?
I would love to see a permanent location where we can sell our products always, not just on market day. I’d also like to see us supporting educating the community on healthy food choices.

Next Monday, October 30th, is the last day for the weekly farmers market. It’s on Long Road, not too far from Grand Island Boulevard. There are lovely signs to point you in the right direction.

Look for a variety of winter squashes, pumpkins, eggs, meat, baked goods, and more.

7 thoughts on “Humans of Grand Island: tending herbs and chickens”

  1. How neat that you are making people aware of it! I love tea!! So I enjoyed getting to know more about what goes into farming with herbs & making teas, etc. I hope one day there will be a permanent location.

  2. How lovely to combine your passion with your business. Cooperative farming is the only way farming can be sustainable because it is far harder to sell than it is to grow. Besides a regular steady income or a huge amount of capital is necessary to be a successful farmer especially in rain fed agriculture as we have in India.

  3. That is an interesting alternate career and how cool that she has been able to manage all that. Thank you it Sharing her story.

  4. Being shy and not talking with farmers enough, I enjoyed your interview. The one good thing here is that we have a year round market for the first time. Happiness!

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