Joyce & Travis Miller
Living in a rural area just outside of Washington D.C., Joyce & Travis exemplify the farm-to-table movement in their everyday lives; from foraging for their produce to harvesting their own proteins. Starting Falling Bark Farm after their retirement, they have found themselves building and growing a delicious new business that allows them to live and follow their passion.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
We didn't really intend to start a company, we just wanted to supplement our retirement income. It blossomed into a company unintentionally!
Tell us about your products.
Our signature product is Original Hickory Syrup. The other flavors developed over time as the opportunities presented themselves. We added a vanilla bean to each bottle of syrup to create a more familiar product to attract younger folks. We added alcohol (Brandy) to that to appeal to the adult crowd. We removed the vanilla bean and left the brandy for those who wanted to experiment with their culinary skills, and we were approached by a local distillery about buying their excess of whisky barrels to create our 180 Reserve Barrel Aged. The flavors evolve as the opportunities arise.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?
We have the opportunity to practice a little creative license with our products while crafting every single bottle ourselves. A little part of us goes into every bottle.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
Baked sweet potatoes or homemade ice cream drizzled with our signature Hickory Syrup.
What Drew You To Food?
Travis has always been interested in cooking and creating dishes from food he has grown in the garden, and meat or fish he has harvested through hunting.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
We love being outdoors and foraging and wildcrafting for food. There is a bounty of food out there just waiting to be harvested.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We have lots of ideas, but right now, keeping up with our Hickory Syrup production is our main priority. For ourselves, we make our own vinegars from apple scraps, pineapple and hickory syrup. We experiment with making shrubs and craft sodas. We have recently started collaborating with a local distillery and coffee roaster to produce whisky barrel conditioned coffee beans, which is drawing a lot of interest, as well. We are also working on developing a new syrup flavor for the holiday season.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
We enjoy our signature Hickory Syrup. It is very versatile and has a flavor all its own. it is simple...yet at the same time....it offers a very complex element to any food or drink.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Morel mushrooms and fermented foods have always been enjoyable staples in our lives, but lately, we're finding that our own shrubs and flavored vinegars are pretty interesting too.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Last night, we enjoyed wild salmon with bourbon and hickory syrup glaze.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Thomas Jefferson. We live near Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, VA. He promoted maple syrup in a big way, and we would like to have seen what he thought about the hickory syrup. Both are Native American traditions.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?
The best piece of advice we have gotten and practice daily is, "patience". That is the same advice we give to folks both young and old who are entertaining the idea of entrepreneurship.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
We live in a very rural area just outside of the nation's capital, and people flock to our area to experience the local farm to table movement, so all of our local chefs are very interesting and bring a lot to the table, so to speak. WE learn new things every day from each one of them.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Homemade biscuits with butter and honey, fresh green beans cooked slow with bacon, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried pork chops, home grown tomatoes, fermented kraut & a tall glass of sweet iced tea.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Gardening, hunting, fishing and playing music.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, Guy Clark Music, Old Crow Medicine Show, Scott Joplin and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
What is your favorite recipe to make with the product featured in The Box from Chef Brittanny Anderson?
Pretty simple: Whisky & Hickory Syrup Glaze with spices on smoked ribs.