Cara Turned her Backyard Garden into a Local Food Business Posted on 08 Sep 15:30

It’s been almost 7 years since Cara Dafforn got the idea that her 1/3-acre garden could be a business—a real, full-time income from a space smaller than most back yards. But, just one meeting with Cara and you’ll know why her wild idea was bound to succeed. Her dedication to her goals and her unmatched passion for her craft color every conversation. Cara now farms over 2 acres of urban garden, and partners with two Indiana farm co-ops to source what her own small beds can’t meet.

Cara’s creations -- U-Relish soup mixes -- are truly as local as any meal you can buy, and Cara’s contribution to our local farm and food community is a really big "hill of beans."

When Cara was first incubating her business in a shared kitchen, she wanted to provide local food that was delicious and affordable. She devised a product that makes cooking easy and eating fun. Her slow-cooker kits are vegan, healthy, delicious, and perhaps most importantly, they’re *simple*. Just add water. Set the timer. And come back hours later to enjoy any one of six different flavors of bean soup.

Cara learned early on that, while her urban garden would anchor the flavor and be the heart of her products, they could not supply the bulk of the ingredient: chili beans, pintos, chick peas, and a litany of protein-rich legumes that make for hearty and healthy soups.

So, Cara turned her own farming focus to permaculture. She would grow dense beds of dozens of micro-ingredient crops. From just 2 acres, she reaps mint, lovage, thyme, sage, savory, oregano, annuals like celery leaf and basil, and even a selection of soft fruits grow on the tiny urban farm--currants, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

The flavor packed in each bag of U-Relish soup is a product of Indiana soils. And what flavor it is!

For the “meat” of the soup (figuratively speaking, of course), Cara partners with larger farms through two co-ops where she can source naturally-grown legumes. Dozens of acres around Indiana are busy producing the varieties of beans that Cara meticulously chooses for her own recipes.

Today, six years later, Cara’s touch is still on every bag of U-Relish—from the dried thyme that Cara picked and dried with care, to the hand-stamped label on the bag. And, at under $6.00 per bag, these kits are the most affordable local meal you can find.

We’re excited to have Cara join our online farmers market. You can order a bag of U-Relish soup today at, and say “thanks” to Cara for all her hard work to feed our local community.