My cooking experience began at age 6 when Santa gave me a Betty Crocker children’s real cooking miniature oven. I baked many cookies, cakes, and pies that year.
By age 13, I was responsible for the family dinners as both of our parents worked until 5pm. Spaghetti with sauce was a favorite.
After 3 years of nursing school where I learned about bacteria control, I traveled over the US, drove to Alaska, and visited Spain and Denmark, eating the foods of each district as I went. I also collected recipes along the way.
In 1990 my new husband and I decided to escape the congestion of the city, and moved to a farm in rural Charles City, Virginia. We restored its neglected orchard, and stocked the farm with vibrant blueberry bushes.
We opened a pick-your-own-fruit operation. Good weather brought many customers; on cloudy, rainy days we had to watch the berries fall, unpicked, to the ground.
The wasted harvest inspired me to cook the unused berries into artisan jams. We saw our business begin to grow as we followed the advice, as well as physical and financial help, from the Small Farm Outreach program of Virginia State University and the US Extension Service.
Today, Barry maintains the thriving farm and orchards. We have even been able to hire two cooks, leaving time for marketing and deliveries to me.
Jan’s Jams was fortunate to have been selected as Virginia State University’s 2013 SMALL FARMER OF THE YEAR!