Growing Now! (February)

It’s February (well tomorrow) and that means Spring is on the horizon here in Alabama. We have a few more cold days to go, but overall we are pushing through to warmer weather and Spring produce.

Here on the farm, we’re in the planning phase. We’ve gotten out our seeds along with our journal to see exactly what this years Spring gardens will look like. This is important because in order to keep the soil healthy and focus on being sustainable crop rotation is key. Over the Winter we planted a cover crop so this month it was recently tilled in to add those nutrients to the soil.

We have gotten some seeds started indoors. Produce like tomatoes and peppers having a extremely long growing season so it’s imperative that we start them early and transplant them once all danger of frost has passed.

Our peas have come in abundance. We love peas around here and have succession planted more to be able to offer them for a long time to come. We grow a few different varieties that are delicious and pretty too.

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Collards will be back this month along with plenty of lettuce. You can find these in our Winter Greens and Salad Mix. Both are available on our shop page. Collards will also be listed separately later in the month.

In keeping up with our Asian theme we have a variety of greens and cabbages growing that we’re excited to try. The one pictured below is just a sneak peek of what’s to come.

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Last month we shared that with you guys that we’re growing celery for the first time. With the temperatures becoming unseasonably warm we’re hoping to keep it cool and shaded. Here’s a picture of what it looked like a few days ago.

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There is so much more, BUT we have to keep some things under wrap for now. All in all this month will be one where we work. So much to do, so much to plant. Stay tuned to see all the action as it unfolds. See you again next month.

 

 

The Birth of Kith & Kin CSA

Recently our farm along with Bain Home Gardens participated in a competition for grant funding. As the competition comes to a close we can tell that neither farm will win, but in a way we kind of feel like we have. Seeing the community support, listening to the feedback, and watching how many people shared our posts made us realize just how important having a clean reliable food source is to all of you.

We wish we could list every single voter for every vote. We wish we could name all the people who advocated for us and the businesses along with other farmers who helped us. At last check we had over 500 votes! That may not seem like a lot to some people, but for us it meant the world! So we say thank you! Thank You! THANK YOU!

We want to take what we’ve learned from everyone and give back! How?!? Well although we didn’t win the competition, we received so much feedback throughout the whole month. This was especially true after our story was featured on WTVY. This helped us realize that the idea of a CSA is something we CAN move forward with.

So through many prayers and family conversations, Hawkins Homestead Farm and Bain Home Gardens joined together to create Kith & Kin CSA. Together, we are ecstatic to bring this to all of you. We thank you for your support and we want everyone to know that we’ve listened!

We heard you ask for specialty items. We read the emails and the comments on social media. We even spoke with some of you by phone.

One of my favorite movies is “Field of Dreams.” There is a voice throughout the movie that says “If you build it, they will come.” Everyone thinks the main character is crazy for what he’s doing, but he has faith and his hard work and dedication paid off. Building this CSA, forming this partnership between friends, and bringing you produce from two farms is our way of building “it.” The “it” is the need we heard loud and clear through every single vote, like, share, comment….even some apologies when you missed a day.

Shena Nicole, who manages Bain Home Gardens and I have talked about this for months. Now that we’re here and official, it’s a prayer answered and a dream come true. So we welcome you to the birth of Kith & Kin. We hope you will consider joining our Spring CSA. It is truly our pleasure to see how “what started as food for our family has blossomed into food for yours.”

 

 

Radish and Broccoli Rabe Stir Fry

In the Fall we grow plenty of organic radishes! This year we grew organic broccoli rabe for the first time and have been enjoying eating it. I created a fantastic recipe with the help of a tip from our friends at Bain Home Gardens that was gone almost as soon as I made it that I want to share with you. It is as follows:

INGREDIENTS

A bunch of broccoli rabe (roughly chopped)

3 medium radishes (sliced)

2 Tablespoons of minced garlic (or more to taste)

3 Tablespoons of Olive oil

Bone Broth (or chicken broth/stock if you haven’t any)

Half an onion diced

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a large pan

Add in onions, garlic, and radishes

Cook until lightly browned and the radishes have softened

Add in the remaining olive oil

Add in broccoli rabe by the handful while mixing

Add Salt and allow to cook down.

Once everything has cooked down add about 1 cup of Broth and simmer on low for about 15 mins.

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Growing Now! (January)

Can you believe it? Tomorrow we will be in 2019! The whole year flew by or maybe it washed away with all the rain that we had. This January marks the official 1 year anniversary of our website and of this segment. We are excited to announce new ventures, sales, and upcoming events.

What will this next year bring? Well we can’t speak for the weather, but we will have ALOT to offer you. For now, here’s what we’re growing in January:

Arugula! If you guys have been following us then you know that I am in love with this peppery green. I often find myself checking it twice….really I’m just picking and eating it. It’s so good!

Cabbage! We have a few different varieties of cabbage growing. It’s one of those versatile vegetables that can be used in so many areas so we planted quite a bit. We’re hoping to try our hand at fermenting by making sauerkraut, we love coleslaw, sauteed cabbage with smoked turkey (which we also have growing now) and cabbage stew.

Celery! This is something that is brand new for us for 2019. We like to call it our “celery experiment.” When we planted it, we weren’t even sure it was going to grow, but we are super excited to see it start. Celery takes months to grow so it will be a long time before we see if our experiment works or not. It loves cool weather like most green vegetables and so figuring out when to plant it was our first challenge. Our second one will be protecting it from the heat come Spring. Hopefully we timed it right!

Cilantro! Our only garden herb for Fall and Winter is cilantro. We have tried to grow it in the Spring, but it hates heat, often going to seed quickly. We had given up when we realized that it had reseeded and voluntarily grew on its own in the same spot where we kept a pot for it. Last year there wasn’t enough to share, but this year it’s growing like crazy, so we hope you get it while it’s available.

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Peas! With all the weather changes, Our peas are growing very slowly. We think they’re a bit confused and don’t really know what to do, but they have the most beautiful flowers in various shades  of purple and white. For now we will enjoy the flowers and keep tending to them while we wait on the pods to fully come in.

Of course there is always more……………..

We thank you for keeping up with us each month and as we progess into this new year, we look forward to being your choice for fresh, sustainable, clean produce and more.

Don’t forget! Voting starts tomorrow for Cultivating Change. If you haven’t taken the time to register, please do so here. Remember you can vote daily! Thank you and we will see you next month.

Education- “cage free”

To finish up this educational series originally posted in the Market at Dothan Newsletter, today we’re going to talk about “cage free.

When you hear those words the thought that may come to mind is one of birds who are living their best life. You know outiside, cage free, and happy.

FACT: “Cage free” does not mean outside access.  A label can read “cage free” and simply mean that birds are housed with many other birds in the same space.

You know those thousands of birds we spoke to you about before? They may have access to nesting boxes and even roosting bars, but all be crammed up and live in terrible conditions.

Many farms use cages and other methods for their birds all while allowing the birds to live naturally.

On our farm we use a variety of methods. From complete outside access, to mini coops, hoop houses, and others. What’s important to us is their safety, that they get to be birds the way God intended, and that their quality of life is preserved.

For our meat birds that are ready for harvest, we move them to a caged holding area. This is complete outside access and allows them to still excercise their natural instincts.

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The above picture is one of our hoop houses as a work in progress. We use these to move our meat birds to fresh grass, house broody mama chickens, breeder pens, quarantine new flock members, and also to allow baby poults and chicks who aren’t quite ready to be outside permanently safe outdoor access.

This series applies to ALL growers and producers. Whether you’re a grocery store, farmers market, or a direct farm. As consumers and people who grow and eat these birds and their eggs giving them the best quality of life means that we practice and support a clean, safe, and natural environment. Not just for our animals, but  for those that we purchase from others. If this matters to you, then this education is important.

For example, now is the time of year when local farmers, us included have little to no eggs. So as we branch out to get our eggs from elsewhere, please read the label carefully, ask questions if possible, and choose wisely,

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it to be informative and educational. If you have questions or would like more information, we would love to hear from you.

We Need Your….

HELP!

We are almost at the start of a new year and this year has been great because of all of you!

Let’s stroll down memory lane at what 2018 brought us.

We grew food!

And lots of it!

SO THANK YOU! 

2018 was a year of growing for us! We grew more produce than ever. We had highs and lows and even some failures in between, but we grew food. We fed our family and some of yours and we made sure that what we all ate was of the highest quality and chemical free.

So in 2019, we are asking you to come grow with us! How? Well we are participating in a Grant Program that will allow us to grow even more IF we win. BUT…

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

The program is called Cultivating Change and it helps farmers do what we do best, grow food. Our goal is to get clean food out to as many people as possible and if we win, we have the opportunity to do just that.

Our farm has specifically asked for greenhouse funding. This is something that will allow us to extend our growing seasons by starting earlier and producing late.

We are looking into so many different avenues this coming year and partnering with other growers who are growing clean food. We want to fill up the Wiregrass with food that is safe and delicious, but we can’t do it alone. Just as we could not have come this far without all of you, we need you now even more. So we ask that you please vote for us.

By taking the time to register here, you can vote daily for us. We hope you will!

Thank you for all your support in 2018 and we look forward to providing you with even more in 2019.

Birth of a Brand!

Last February I released my very own hair and body products. The release was made available to only a select few people on the Market. These are not new products as I have been making them for years and they are listed on our Shop Page, but I want to take the time to share my personal story of how these products came to be. It is as follows….

Growing up there was a home remedy for just about everything. My Grandmother would drink castor oil to fight off illness and my mom would warm up sweet almond oil to fight a earache. Someone always had a remedy or a recipe for something!

I was born at home. This was something that was different, even way back then. I actually didn’t see the inside of a doctors office or a hospital until I was almost a teenager because we had a home doctor. Her name was Dr. Catalina. She was a very small Italian lady who practiced medicine from her house. Kind of like how Bill Cosby did on “The Cosby Show.” She would always call me Raquel instead of Rachel and I loved her dearly. She was a doctor with all the titles and degrees to go with it, but she practiced holistic medicine as well. She strongly believed that in taking that route first and she always did. Hence the above mentioned remedies.

As a young girl, I didn’t see the value or appreciate these things. So as you can imagine, over time all that tradition went out the window. It wasn’t until both myself and people I love began to have problems as we aged that they even came to mind.

I began to develop an interest in the way different soaps, lotions, and other everyday products affect our bodies. The research I found was devastating. These ingredients that were supposed to be the solution, were actually causing problems! I even found that some could cause cancer?!? It was almost like the products should have came with a warning label!

Of course I dug deeper. I researched parabens, sulfates, silicones, fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals listed on bottles I had used my whole life. Some I couldn’t even pronounce. Then I researched the companies and their business practices. There was a fortune being made, without a care about what harm these toxins were causing. I felt like I was being educated for the first time. There was so much information out there! It was staggering and overwhelming.

You can imagine my relief when I learned about natural products. It was amazing to see that God really has given us everything we need through his creations!

I began an extensive research of essential oils, along with how to create everyday products from plants, and the power of apple cider vinegar. I got my husband on board and we started implementing changes. This was about 13 years ago and it’s what started me on this journey of learning how to live better, eat healthier, and take the best care of my body (I am still learning this).

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This picture of Brandon and I is 10 years old.

My biggest personal change was letting go of the chemically treated hair I had since I was a little girl. Every 6-8 weeks, I religiously slathered my head with chemicals that included lye, formaldehyde, and whatever else was in that jar. I didn’t know it at the time, but I soon found out that I was poisoning my body.

A good friend shared a video with me of what these chemicals were really doing to our bodies and after researching more on my own, I was done. I got permission from my husband and little by little transitioned to the natural look I have today. The picture you see below was taken last year.

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I now have all sorts of recipes for all hair types. One of my favorites is a hair conditioner that uses bananas, olive oil, eggs, and raw honey. I wish I could bottle that one for you guys! It’s so good. Each ingredient has a special property that all hair needs.

Our family and friends have exclusively used my products for the longest time and my husband has always encouraged me to market them. He has been a believer and my strongest supporter since he tried them himself (before then he wouldn’t touch a moisturizer). I was very apprehensive because these were MY creations and I worried if others would like them. Really I was just too scared and I also didn’t know where to start.

So since I now have my own forum, they are available to all of you. I love to try new scents, and blend up different oils to see what I can come up with. I know that not everyone likes or can handle scents so I also make products with little to no fragrance except those naturally occurring in the oils. If someone has a particular issue like exzema or hair thinning, I blend what in my experience has worked for those. Of course, I am no doctor and I make no medical claims, but it is my aim to help where I can and provide a safer alternative.

This is my story. One day my products will have a name……but that may take me a while! I mean it has taken me years to get the courage to bring them out. Creating these products is a labor of love for me and one that I truly enjoy. I hope you guys enjoy it too.

Oh SNAP!

 

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We are VERY EXCITED about this one and would like to announce that in an effort to make quality organic food available to EVERYONE, our farm is now able to accept SNAP EBT benefits!

No purchaes can be made online, but if you contact us to place an order and would like to pay with EBT, we can now accomodate you. This means that you can also use EBT when you come out to see us at any of the events we participate in.

We have some exciting new things coming up in 2019 and this is just a preview of one of them.

 

Education- “no added hormones”

To continue our series that was originally posted in the Market at Dothan weblog we want to share with you information this week about “no added hormones.” This information was originally changed and edited before being published. It is being shared to our website today in its original state without editing. It is taken from our own research, FACTS, and knowledge of the poultry industry.

No added hormones” So what does that even mean? Why would poultry be labeled as having no added hormones? 

FACT: It’s illegal in the United States for poultry to be given hormones. Whenever these labels are placed on poultry, it is then required for them to say something to the effect of how the use of hormones isn’t allowed in poultry. There is usually a star or a marker for you to read and follow the fine print. 

So why the label? Really it’s a farce! It makes it SEEM like one company or grower has an advantage over another, BUT it’s a marketing strategy! Educated consumers know that no chickens are given hormones! So please don’t be fooled! 

I will be the first to tell you that before researching this we had our chickens labeled as steroid free, but as we became educated we realized this was not necessary because of the laws governing chicken in the United States.  

I know what you’re thinking….why the super chickens? You know those whose legs are huge and the chicken breast is bigger than the entire chicken. It’s called confinement and targeted nutrition. Remember from our last post, chickens are omnivores. They will eat just about anything they can find or are given.

Let’s illustrate it this way. If a chicken is housed with 20,000 of its friends, given a diet that mostly consists of genetically modified corn, and they don’t have much if any room to move around, they can be marketed and labeled as “vegetarian fed” with “no added hormones.” Is that what you want to eat and feed your family?!?! NOPE! That is not for us! I’m sure that, that is not for any of you either, or else you wouldn’t be here! 

In the end we just want you to be educated. Anyone can slaughter a chicken and sell it. They can use creative marketing that looks like something you want, but the facts are that not everything that looks good, is! 

Next time we will share with you our article on “cage free.”

Education- “vegetarian fed”

We recently started an educational series on our weblog for The Market at Dothan and since we feel this information is SO important we also wanted to share it on our website. This will allow us to say what we feel is necessary for education without it being censored, changed, or edited. The statements made are our views along with FACTS taken from research and knowledge from our own experience.

Today we want to talk to you about poultry labels. Brandon and I were recently in the more upscale market in our area and we saw poultry that was listed as “vegetarian fed.” Not just any poultry, but the fancy kind with the fancy price tag. Well anyone looking at these labels may think these birds are worth the extra money. They may think they should purchase them…..BUT SHOULD THEY?!? We hope by educating you as the consumer, we are helping you to choose wisely! Not everything that looks good is! 

FACT: Chickens no matter what breed they are love to be chickens. They are omnivores and if provided with an environment that allows them to be chickens their natural instincts kick in. They are not vegetarians! They love bugs of all sorts and will actively search for them.

44FE91A4-7F48-45FC-8C1F-0749FBA06A29.jpegIn the above photo, you have our chickens digging through the compost pile.

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In these photos you have our chickens actively searching for food. So whether you’re raising hens or meat birds of all sorts, chickens will eat what they can find.

Of course we feed our chickens a 100% certified organic feed. It is verified by the Non-GMO project and keeps them healthy and strong. We buy it in bulk and make sure that they’re getting the BEST feed. Their first choice is always whatever they can find, but they love their feed and so do we! What they’re fed and how they are raised is what matters to us. We want to give them the best life so they can produce quality meat and eggs.

Next week we will continue in this series and talk to you guys about “no added hormones.”