By Lyndsie Kiebert
The Bonner Mall in Ponderay is known for a few things. The DMV line is almost always out the door, JC Penney is the centerpiece and the movie theater is a staple of every Bonner County kids’ childhood.
The above are just a few mainstays when it comes to what the Bonner Mall offers, and now a recent addition is bringing a whole new aspect of locality to the mall: locally produced farm goods.
CreekSide Acres & Dang Good Shoppe opened its doors in April. When entering the mall from the DMV end, turn right and find farm fresh produce, meats, whole foods, locally made gifts and goodies, as well as an apothecary.
Tom and Heidi Hoard have been farming at their property in Elmira since 2013. The couple has seven children — three with special needs — and wanted to leave them a legacy while also pursuing a healthier lifestyle.
“We wanted to create a place they could always call home,” Heidi said.
The result is a farm complete with an orchard, pigs, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks and a belief that everything is better when you make it yourself from start to finish. They also sell their stock animals to 4-H and FFA kids, and raise animals onsite until desired butcher weight for anyone wanting some “grass-fed goodness” in their freezer.
And there’s another motive for the do-it-yourself attitude at Creekside Acres: Heidi found out she had Celiac Disease, and their youngest son, who has special needs, cannot have processed foods.
Heidi began to dabble in cooking and baking using gluten free and other allergy-specific methods. Through meeting other people with allergies and spreading her culinary creations, the Hoards launched into a business they found was desperately needed.
“It inspired us to start sharing the food that we made,” she said. “We just want to provide people with something nutritious to eat, while keeping it affordable.”
Tom said he was inspired to share he and Heidi’s allergy-specific goods when he tried to buy a dozen gluten-free cupcakes for her birthday to the tune of $39. He said he found the price ridiculous.
“There’s no reason to gauge people for it,” Tom said.
So with the mission in mind — whole foods, custom ordered for specific allergies at an affordable price — Tom said he started to get the word out, mostly on Facebook. The result was numerous orders coming in for barbecue sauce, gluten-free baked goods and much more from Libby, Mont., to Deer Park, Wash. and beyond. They have even shipped their barbecue sauce back east, Tom said. With support from their customers, they opened the shop in the mall as a central meeting place, and they keep extra goods in stock for any passerby looking to try something new.
“We actually will listen to what you need and make what you want,” Heidi said. “Look, if you didn’t like it the first time, I will make it again until it’s right. You’re not going to get that anywhere else.”
To contact the Hoards to ask questions and discuss special orders, call them at (208) 290-0720 or (208) 597-051, email them at [email protected], or message them on Facebook at “Creekside Acres & Dang Good Shoppe.” Current store hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. -6 p.m. with special events on Saturdays.