Now she lives on Many Rocks Farm, a small farm near Keedysville, and runs a successful food-based business. She raises goats for meat and milk, and, recently, she expanded into raising heritage livestock.
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"I was raised in Kansas and wanted to get back to the farm," Dietz-Band said.
The first few years after Dietz-Band and her husband, Allan Band, moved to Keedysville, they built fences, outbuildings and other farm infrastructure. They also got to know other producers in the area.
Perhaps most importantly, Dietz-Band sought local resources to help her operate a successful, food-based business.
This was not as easy as it sounds.
"When I first began, about five years ago, it was extremely difficult to find information," Dietz-Band said. "It wasn't till I talked to food-protection people at the state level that I found out what I needed. Now I feel really good."
Make a profit from food
University of Maryland Extension offices have noticed a surge of interest in starting food-based businesses.
To meet the need, University of Maryland Extension collaborated with Winifred McGee, a Pennsylvania State University Extension educator based in Lebanon County, Pa., to present an all-day class, Food for Profit, in several counties in Maryland.
Dietz-Band will join extension presenters in leading Food for Profit in Washington County on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The class is already filled to capacity, according to McGee.
"There's a lot of excitement for Food for Profit. I have been in extension since 1990 and I have taught versions of the class for 20 years," McGee said. "But it has evolved. I think along with the desire people have to make a business, there's more of a demand for local foods."
To market, to market
Dietz-Band said developing a farm-based business for the local market was always her goal. But she didn't want to undermine her farmer-friends' businesses.
"All my goat-raising friends make cheese, and I didn't want to compete with them. So I learned to do soap and lotion from the milk," she said. "(And) I started selling goat meat — sausages and all kinds of cuts. Now I have diversified into heritage breeds of pork. And this year I've added Cubalaya chickens and heritage ducks."
One aspect of a food-based business new business owners must master is following safety regulations. Dietz-Band said she knew she would need to learn about relevant state and federal laws.
"If I make soap, and I follow (Federal Department of Agriculture) package-labeling standards for soap — include ingredients and weight — that's OK," she said. "But if I say it softens the skin, then it's a cosmetic, and there's a whole other set of regulations. If I say it relieves aches, then it's a drug. So, for me, I just say it's soap."
A business, not a hobby
Dietz-Band said developing a food-based business selling hundreds or thousands of units is different from simply growing tomatoes, canning 30 jars of Uncle Joe's spaghetti sauce and selling them to co-workers.