July 17, 2023
Some say that Sarah Grace Stone is a little crazy for the number of things she has on her plate. But Sarah Grace is just a young woman with ideas, strong work ethic, and a passion for agriculture, consumers, and jam.
Home for Sarah Grace is a farm in Rowland, NC where her family grows row crops on 5,000 acres; additionally, they raise pigs and cattle. They also grow produce that they sell directly to consumers. It was at the produce stand, where an idea was born.
When a customer asked Sarah Grace’s grandmother if there were any other products they sold, her grandmother offered up a recipe for strawberry jam. It was then that Sarah Grace had the idea to make jam herself and sell it to customers. Using an old family recipe and strawberries from their farm, G’s Jams was born.
It didn’t stop there, though. Sarah Grace has continued to expand her business, taking hold of every opportunity that comes her way. Currently, she offers pear honey (using pears in her grandmother’s yard), pepper jelly (using peppers from her garden), and blueberry jam (using fruit from an organic blueberry patch she managed). When she noticed a gap in the market place, she decided to offer a three-pack of her jams as corporate type gifts for businesses and organizations. She is also making jams for wedding favors this year.
She is doing all this while graduating college and starting a full-time job. In May, Sarah Grace graduated with degrees in Agriculture Business Management with minors in Animal Science, Economics, and Ag Entrepreneurship. This summer, she will transition from part-time to full-time in her role as an undergraduate coordinator at NCSU. In this position, she teaches professional development classes, advises students, and coordinates events. On weekends she makes jam. That’s almost a 2-hour commute with no traffic from Raleigh to Rowland.
“I’m doing it all by myself. People call me crazy,” Sarah Grace said.
She says that the hardest part is juggling it all and knowing what to do next. Sarah Grace had a good idea of how to get started because of her 8-month internship with AgCarolina Farm Credit.
“I saw what it took to have a business and what the financial needs looked like,” she said. Sarah Grace took out a loan from her parents when she first started making jams in 2020. Taking what she learned at AgCarolina, she presented a business model, business plan, cashflow…the whole nine yards to her parents when asking for the loan. She has since paid them back in full and continues to expand and evolve G’s Jams.
In addition to the business lessons, she received during her internship, Sarah Grace says that she also learned patience and to give people chances. “I learned the value of patience and how much that means to people you’re working with. I’m a very spitfire, full-throttle type of person. I learned the value of patience with customers but also with co-workers,” Sarah Grace shared of her time at AgCarolina. She added that because folks like Callie Copeland and Skipper Jones gave her a chance, she was able to learn and do so much! Those lessons helped her as she launched G’s Jams.
Sarah Grace continues to evolve her business and career and is excited for the future. She’s looking forward to the completion of a kitchen being built on the farm for her jam production. One day, she hopes to open a storefront where she can sell her jams and produce from her garden. Her dream is to work full-time on the farm, growing, making, and selling goods. Sarah Grace has a passion for the farm to fork movement.
“I love to tell my story. I feel like if I don’t have a seat at the table, then I’m on the menu,” Sarah Grace said.
She thinks that educating consumers where their food comes from and allowing them to see the process is important. One unique thing Sarah Grace has been able to do is talk about both organic and non-organic practices. The blueberry patch she managed for a local woman was organic. She had to learn how to farm organically and how to communicate those practices to the customer. On the flip side to that, her garden and strawberries are not organically grown, but are still just as good.
“I’ve had to learn how to share about and appreciate both farming practices and the intentions behind them,” said Sarah Grace who shares that both are just as healthy and good with her consumers.
Sarah Grace certainly has a full plate, but she’s been intentional about taking that plate to the table to connect with consumers. What started as a strawberry jam recipe card has flourished into a full-blown business with big goals. We have a feeling G’s Jams is just getting started.