Sanders Farm in Mendenhall is a small family operation that The Magee Courier featured in the 2020 publication of The Source Magazine. The article was written as part of a collaborative piece on self sufficiency and sustainability, featuring their adventure with goat milk products.
At that point they were just beginning their foray into a new commercial arena even though they had had goats for some time. When word got out that Sanders Farm was now making natural goat milk soaps in a variety of scents, demand increased. In fact, the soaps are now available at a local coffee shop in Mendenhall, Beans and Sprouts, along with their lip balm made from honey produced by their own hives.
“Beans and Sprouts is the only location we offer our products,” said Deia Sanders. “We haven’t really considered anywhere else. The owners really strive for unique and local, so it seems to be a perfect fit so far. They’ve also been long-time customers and have seen the difference using natural products makes, so we know they believe in what we do.” Deia is also employed with the Simpson County School District. Her husband, Patrick, is worship pastor at Overflow Church.
The soaps are so well received that Deia has begun offering soap making classes at Beans and Sprouts, already holding one in August and September. Two more are scheduled in October and November focusing on seasonal scents associated with fall and Christmas. There is a nominal materials fee; however, each participant leaves with a bar of soap.
As last year’s article stated, Sanders Farm is a family affair. While Mom and Dad are very involved so are their girls, Nyla, Piper and Parker. And while the products are sold locally proceeds raised have also been used to help fund mission trips for the two older girls. According to Deia, “They by nature are serving and always helping at church and with ministry opportunities because their dad works at the church and we are surrounded by local needs. But once they were saved, it became their responsibility as Christians, just like the rest of us, to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” She continued, “We certainly didn’t want to ‘hand’ them a mission trip and it feel like they got a vacation.
Nyla and Piper went about developing business and marketing strategies to sell their products. Nyla created goat milk soaps, made sales and delivered the products. Piper determined that it would be necessary to sell 1,000 lip balms to raise the money she needed for her mission trip. So instead, she designed and sold tee shirts featuring a bee and the fruit of the spirit.
Nyla and Patrick served in the mission field of Guatemala last May through Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International (BMDMI), while Piper and Deia went to Peru in August through One Ten Vision.
The girls have not just learned how to develop and implement business plans or make money. They are all also learning various work responsibilities such as caring for their animals, planning, and fiscal management. “They’ve bought most of the animals. Nyla actually started Sanders Farm and designed the logo when she began selling duck eggs to raise money for a donkey,” said Deia. Then Piper and youngest sister Parker began selling eggs at farmers markets to buy their own goats. Deia also explained that there have been times the girls wanted something new and finding their “feed jar” low required them to attend an animal sale selling their animals to obtain the funds.
Other lessons learned along the way included developing patience. “From the time they tasted goat cheese and asked if it was possible to make it, to the time they actually made their first goat cheese, was about two years. They had to earn money for the goats, breed goats, have the babies and wean them. Then they were finally able to get milk,” stated Deia.
Mom is also quick to point out that the three girls are typical sisters who fight and argue on occasion. “But at the end of the day they draw for ‘hooves, paws, or wings’ (goats, dogs or chickens) to see who is tending to which group of animals. And almost every evening they end up helping each other, no matter what they drew – by herding in, holding a flashlight, whatever – so it truly does bring them together,” Deia added.
The farm also offers many healthful benefits. According to Deia, “The goats and beekeeping have brought us so much joy. The soaps are so much better for your skin than soaps with tons of ingredients, and honey is used for so many natural remedies. It’s great to be able to provide this for people.”
Posted on the Sanders Farm Facebook page July 4, 2021, Deia offered the following insights on farm living: Living in the land of milk and honey… what I’ve realized from living on a little farm:
When the goat’s milk begins to come in it’s during spring, the animals are fertile. Life is plentiful. Our resources are increasing.
When bees start making honey there’s been plenty of plant life for pollen and nectar. Flowers and vegetation are blooming. Once again our resources are increasing.
The Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey,” wasn’t just promised to God’s people, it was full of promise and abundance for God’s people.
I get quiet time when milking with the sunrise or sunset, and often wonder what of God’s promises are waiting out there, provided in abundance, that I’m not going after.