Meet Samuel the Alpaca, his wooly coat is sheered and the wool is used to create value added products. 

Meet Samuel the Alpaca, his wooly coat is sheered and the wool is used to create value added products. 

Shalom, not just the Hebrew word for peace, its also a great network farm, woolery and faith based charitable organization. Located just north of Parchment, Michigan, the network includes adult foster care complete with educational workshops and activities, for adults with developmental disabilities. You can find Theresa a long term staple of Shalom and active volunteer, vending at the Portage Market and the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. She sells items made by the participants at Shalom as well as other hand crafted goods such as tote bags made from recycled items and bird nesting balls made form left over materials. Theresa took us on a great tour through the property and showed us what they are all about read on to learn more about this great organization. 

The Woolery and store is a great place where volunteers work alongside adults with developmental disabilities to prepare the wool for products and crafts. The wool goes through many different steps before its ready for use, all debris are picked out of the wool,  then it is washed fluffed and stretched using 4 different machines (a wringer washer, picker, carder and felting machine). The prepared wool is used to make a variety of products, including wool dryer balls, cat toys, rugs, placemats and more. you can find the products at the store, Friday-Saturday from 9-3 and the farmer's markets. One of the more popular items available at the market are natural wool drier balls. The balls fluff clothing and absorb moisture, reducing the time needed to dry clothes.  According to studies, the use of wool dryer balls reduces drier energy use by 25%, they are only $20 and they last many years.

The Shalom farm, across the street from the woolery is used for producing food and materials for the programs and acts as an educational resource for participants to get outside and use their hands. On the farm you can can find ducks, goats, alpacas, sheep, and more. "The farm is big enough to provide for their needs and small enough to manage." The farm features an apple orchard as well as fruits and vegetables in raised beds designed to be wheelchair accessible. The unique design allows people with mobility challenges to participate in the planting, maintaining and harvesting of the crops. You can see in the picture below market staff enjoying our visit to the Farm when we met Samuel, a very well tempered alpaca that provides quality entertainment and and lots of fiber for wool products. 

We had a chance to ask Theresa some questions during our tour if you are interested read on, or you can visit her booth in the Kalamazoo Farms Market on Saturdays or in Portage on Sundays, and ask her questions yourself. 

What is the most popular item sold? What is your favorite item?

The natural wool dryer balls are people's favorite. They are also my favorite because they smell natural, save energy and last a long time. They are made by adults with developmental disabilities.

How important is community involvement to SHALOM?

Community involvement is very important to us. Without the help and support of the volunteers and community we wouldn't have accomplished what we have today. When I first helped to start the woolery, the volunteers and local supporters made it all possible. 

Any new items coming soon?

Now available at the store on 6276 N. Riverview Dr. behind the red barn, we have hats, pincoushins, placemats, hot pads, potholders and more. We are also selling our regular items such as dryer balls, wool rugs and natural cat toys. They are all made 100% naturally. 

Which vendor(s) do you frequent at the market?

I like the Naturally Norms beef steak and Sarkozy's peanut butter cookies are my favorite.

What do you enjoy the most about selling at the farmers market?

Communicating with people and talking to them about our farm, spreading awareness of our chemical filled world and about the adults with disabilities that make the great items that I sell.

Thats it for now visit their website to find out ways to get involved, or call at 269-382-1840.