Or: Our unexpected Saturday business venture
It all began yesterday. The lemon tree in our back yard was in bad need of trimming. When we moved into our house 5 years ago, the tree was very small, and only yielded 32 lemons total (at the time, coming from snowy Indiana, we thought that was a lot!). As time went on, we trimmed it a bit every year, but by this year the tree was about four times its original size and had gotten to the point where the branches were so heavy with lemons each year, they hung to the ground. That was making it hard to pick the lemons, rake dead leaves under the tree, and even just walking around it in the yard was getting to be a bother. I'm guessing there were about 500 lemons on the tree this winter.
Enter a sawzall. A good hour later, the tree had been trimmed considerably. As a result, we had to pick all the lemons off the branches that had been trimmed - in all, we filled six 4-gallon buckets and a large laundry basket.
There were two more buckets that are not shown in this picture. That is in addition to about ten buckets of lemons I picked off the tree last month when we had a frost scare.
This cleared up a lot of room under/behind the tree. The kids came up with the idea of making lemonade and selling it at the park, and using the proceeds to buy the materials to build a playhouse in the shade of the lemon tree. Later, they thought maybe they'd like to buy a zoo membership instead, something we haven't had in a while. I thought it was a nice idea, just not something I was planning on doing the next day, or really any day for that matter. The picked lemons keep for weeks if kept cool, and I figured I would just juice them over time and freeze the juice in quart jars until we were ready to use them (which, quite possibly, was never).
Then today, on our way home from an errand, we saw a really cool antique car driving down the road. None of us had ever seen anything like it before, so we kind of followed it just to admire it longer. Lo and behold, it turned into a park near our house, where there were hundreds of old cars on display. My first thought was "Wow, I should take all the kids here to the car show!", soon followed by "Hm, would this be a good place for them to set up their lemonade stand?"
To be honest, going home and juicing lemons, making lemonade, painting a sign, and packing all six kids up to sell lemonade at the park did NOT sound appealing at all. Especially because I would first need to buy sugar, ice, and disposable cups. But I knew this opportunity was too good to pass up.
The boys all helped by washing, cutting, and juicing the lemons. I made the lemonade while the boys painted the sign. Anna thankfully was asleep for most of this, so we were able to go fast and were all ready and set up at the park shortly after noon.
We thought it would be best not to charge anything for the lemonade, but rather to only take donations if anyone felt they wanted to pay for it. About half-way through the afternoon, my husband (who had to work all day) stopped by to bring us all some lunch, and took Miriam and Becky home with him so they could nap while he was doing office work from home.
In all, we gave out about 150 cups total (approx. 6 gallons) over the course of 5 hours. About half of the people who got lemonade gave the kids a donation. The total?
Not bad, huh??!? The cost for sugar, cups, and ice was $15, so we made a total profit of $30. Only nine more Saturdays like this, and we will have enough to buy the playhouse! Although I really don't think I could handle doing that!
There were other benefits to doing this:
(1) People were loving the ice-cold, fresh, homemade lemonade on this sunny day. At one point, a large group from a nursing home for the mentally disabled (about 25 to 30 people) stopped by and all got cups of lemonade. Can you imagine how thrilled and grateful they were? It was such a joy to see them so happy.
(2) It was a great learning opportunity for the kids. Some of the things they learned were:
- how hard it is to earn money, and to make a profit in real life business.
- using the resources they already had to earn something they wanted
- food safety
- manners - I was a little surprised by the amount of children who walked up to ask for lemonade without using the word "please", and upon being handed a cup took it without saying a word, much less "thank you", walked away, and then threw the cup in the grass after finishing the lemonade. I am not talking about toddlers, either, but rather older children and young teens. I think it really demonstrated to our kids that there is a reason why we teach them to say "please" and "thank you".
- If you want something, work for and earn it yourself - don't expect others to give it to you. The world does NOT owe you anything.
I won't lie - it would have been a lot easier and faster for my husband or myself to make that amount of money in a lot less time, and buy the kids that playhouse, or zoo membership, or whatever. But I think it is a great learning experience, and a fun memory.
For now, I just have a splitting headache, and can't wait to get the kids in bed for the night! If I can just find the time and energy to keep helping them until they reach their goal... wish me luck!