- Who They Are:
John and Stella Matheny of Nu-Beginning Farm both grew up enjoying the bounties of fresh vegetables from a home garden and homemade baked goods fresh from the kitchen. Founded in 2003, Nu-Beginning Farm creates fresh, real food without preservatives, while also teaching others to do this for themselves. John and Stella’s understanding of what “real” food is supposed to taste like is the driving force behind their subsequent ten years of growth in the local foods economy. The spirit of their “teaching homestead” and their commitment to real food have led them to partner with James Madison University’s intern program, and to offer intern opportunities for want-to-be homesteaders, homestead classes, a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and products at three farmers markets, numerous local outlets and now a new store located at 240 N. Central Av., Suite 4, (simply called The Store). As John says, “We can take you from eating the food, to growing and preparing the food, to preserving the food.”
With the attitude of “sell the best and eat the rest,” Nu-Beginning Farm offers only the best possible product to their customers, with the unsold items being preserved for personal use over the winter. Because the baked goods don’t have preservatives and the vegetables are picked ripe, everything they sell is as fresh as possible. They constantly monitor expiration dates and quality to ensure only the best is available. A good testament to this quality is the Virginia’s Finest certifications on most of their baked goods and jams, which recognizes their products “the best of the best in the state,” according to John. Quality, knowledge, and the willingness to educate those interested in something better on the family dinner table are what Nu-Beginning Farm strives to offer the community.
How did you get here?
Nu-Beginning was “born” after John, who had more than 20 years in the restaurant industry and a lifetime of gardening, saw a poster for the Wednesday Farmers’ Market in Verona. Starting with two card tables in the trunk of a car and a few surplus vegetables, they slowly grew into jams and handmade soaps, then baked goods. The JMU intern program grew into the homestead classes, and the garden vegetables grew into a 30-person CSA. John says, “Everything we’ve done has been built on the successes of what we’ve done. One farmers’ market grew into three, direct selling grew into wholesaling. Wholesaling grew into Nu-Beginning opening a retail outlet with Grains of Sense Coffees and Teas in December of 2012.” He still considers the farm to be “a family business”—their motto is: “Quality Goodness from Our Family to Yours.” John and Stella work hard to make this motto a very real part of our business.