Continuing our run up to Open Farm Day on July 28th, here is another farm profile by Linda Haley:
Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a sunflower? More like thousands of sunflowers against the blue skies of Fenner. On an exquisitely windy day I drop in to meet the folks who own Triple J Farm, home of Stolor Organics located on Bingley Road. I pull into the driveway and just take in the view. Wherever you look are blue skies and rolling hills that go on forever. I am in love. I see roaming chickens, horses in the pasture and a barking dog.
A woman heads across the yard offering a friendly handshake and smile. It’s Jen Stoker, corralling the dog for a quick meet and greet so we can start the tour. I pass canine inspection so I get to hang out with Jen who promptly introduces me to her right hand woman, Joan Stoker, another pretty lady with a big smile. You know when you meet people you just instantly like? That’s the Stokers- fun, enthusiastic, smart and refreshingly real.
I walk through a short hallway that opens into two rooms. The room on my right has a strange funky contraption and the one to my left has a sink, shelves of shipping materials, labels, tables and all kinds of products in bottles and packs. I’m intrigued. What do they do here? It looks like a farm on the outside with a secret laboratory on the inside. Both Jen and Joan are former teachers. Perfect-they’ll be able to handle my rapid fire, topic hopping, easily distracted style, and I can grill them guilt free.
Suddenly I realize this place is called Triple J and I’ve only met two. The third J is John Stoker, Jen’s husband, who was outside cultivating the sunflower fields before an incoming rainstorm. We head on up to the field to see John making some serious time up and down the rows. Besides sunflowers, Triple J also grows soybeans, corn, oats, and barley, in addition to hay. This location is 150 acres, but overall the Stokers farm 450 acres of crops in Madison County.
Originally conventional dairy farmers, the Stoker family has been farming these parts since 1911- a fourth generation farm that just celebrated their centennial. Triple J and Stolor Organics are 100% certified organic operations. Ok, that’s the farm but what about that bat cave full of gadgets? That’s where they process the grains they grow. That contraption was a seed press. Raw seed goes into the hopper, down the press getting the daylights squeezed out of it. The entire operation is done by hand: stand, pour, press, decant off the oil from the solids and package. Do you know it takes 1 ton of sunflower seeds to make 90 gallons of oil? Jen was processing sunflower seeds the day I was there. Wait till you see this gorgeous golden river.
They press all kinds of oils, by special order. Oils are available in 5oz, 16oz, 32oz, ½ gal, gal, 5 gal and 55 gallon sizes. Remember this oil is the real deal- no additives, deodorants or bleaches-go read what’s in supermarket oil-yikes! All Stolor products are certified USDA organic cold pressed unrefined, non-gmo oils. Their popular items are: sunflower oil- great for salads and stir fry, and a super yummy trail mix of seeds with cashews and walnuts.
True story- I took my sample bag to share in Peterboro-it was GONE in seconds. They also have fantastic skin and hair conditioning oils and massage oils. I was treated to a special hand and foot scrub product they’re developing… HEAVEN! It better be ready for Christmas ladies, I really want that! My hands looked and felt exquisite for days!
If all that isn’t amazing enough, there’s nothing wasted in the process. The leftover waste hulls and shells are called “foots.” These are turned into press cake, which is used as an animal feed product. Foots that don’t become feed are turned into pumice-like scrub products saturated with incredibly moisturizing properties. There’s a small but powerful team that makes all this happen. Besides Jen, Joan and John Stoker, Michael Taylor, Marchette Paul and Shelby Stoker are the heart of Stolor Organics. I learned a ton in my short visit, way too much to fit into this article. That’s why you have to swing by Triple J farms on Open Farm Day. Come meet this great family, tour the fields, check out their press room and sample their wonderful products. Your taste buds will thank you!