The “Spice” of Life

With each passing year, we learn many new things. Some are lessons, others are skills, but we are always growing. Last year was no exception and as a result of our growth there is a lot more to preserve.

Take for example basil. This is a culinary herb that we grow in abundance every year. We make all kinds of prepared foods from it, but last year we have also started dehydrating it.

Rosemary is another example for us. Around here rosemary is such an important herb because not only do we use it in cooking, but we use its oils in our Bath and Body products as well.

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How about lemon balm? This little herb packs a powerful punch and can add flavor to salads and even be used to make teas.

Just about every herb we grow can be preserved and made into something else that adds value to our everyday life and so that’s exactly what we are bringing to you.

Last year our son, Joshua and I made some great dehydrated herb blends and this year we’re going to introduce them to all of you! We will be debuting them as we get closer to their release, but some of you got a sneak peek. Thank you for keeping these blends under wraps!  We appreciate having people we can count on to give us their honest opinion when it comes to our new releases. 

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So as we and our sister farm, Bain Home Gardens grow things like fennel, dill, cilantro, and more we hope to send some excitement your way about some special seasoning blends coming soon!

 

Growing Now! (March 2020)

Hello there! It’s March and you know what means right?!?! Spring!! Yes, Spring is when everything wakes up from its Winter slumber and comes out to stretch and say hello. The trees began to bloom, the flowers blossom, the grass turns a beautiful bright green…..should I continue?

It’s really a time to take in all of God’s beautiful creations. A time to be really be interested in it.

“To do more than just exist in this beautiful world,…..be amazed by it!”

Wondering how you can do this? Well you can start by planting something. Watch the birds. Take in how the bees work. Look up at the beautiful glistening stars on a clear dark night.

These things are what I look forward to. I like to get up early in the morning before anyone is awake and just take it all in. The sounds of our roosters crowing and the bees buzzing brings me so much happiness. There’s a scripture at Romans 1:20 that speaks about how you can see Gods qualities through creation and for me this is so true. So take it all in! Enjoy the beginning of Spring and the entire season to come. I know I will too!

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So here’s what’s going on at HHF…..At the start of March we’ve usually got potatoes planted a few times but, this years weather has been such a struggle! Most of you know that in addition to farming, I also work full time so my schedule is very rigid at times. In February almost every single day off for me was a rain day. This virtually killed not just my timelines, but some of our crops too. We got potatoes in the ground, but just off schedule. Although I’m not looking forward to the hot humid days of Summer our rainfall this Winter has been out of control and we’re in need of a nice balance.

March also begins the start of our annual plant sale. We grow everything from organic and heirloom seeds, then we harden the plants off so that when you’re ready to purchase them, they can go right into the ground or into a pot of your choice.

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This year we’re starting off with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants. Herbs will be ready as of March 15th and we’re planning to add some additional pepper and tomato varieties as they become available. We hope you will consider purchasing plants for your Spring/Summer gardens from your local farmers. Remember that by supporting local farms, you’re supporting your community, and helping to keep fresh chemical free food growing locally. You can find some of these plants here.

We have some really nice broccoli that is heading up now. I’ve been posting a few pictures of it here and there, but our main bed is now starting to bud and we’re excited to offer it to you. Look for it soon on our shop page.

Thank you to everyone who ordered chickens! We received such great feedback and it’s so nice to know that all the work we put in to raise and feed these chickens the right way is paying off. More are being harvested so we can keep you all in chicken as needed. Whether you’re in the market for a larger sized bird or just want to try a small one, we’ve got you covered.

Since we’re speaking about poultry, I know that it’s March, but inevitably every November we receive so many calls about fresh turkeys. So before they sell out, I want to remind everyone to get on the list for them this year. Turkeys are really big birds and we only do a limited quantity. We already have orders for 10, so if you know that you want a fresh bird for your big meal, please let us know EARLY!

Spring is when everything that we have growing inside will be transplanted to its permanent home. This means that soon we will bring back our basil and our basil pesto. Then once eveything starts making we will have bruschetta and my personal favorite, cucumber and tomato salad, it’s just so good!

We’ve closed our Kith and Kin Spring season. We are excited at all this season will bring to our members and look forward to the start in April. Thank you for allowing our families to feed yours!

In this last year especially, we have received lots of requests for sweet corn.  As a result, we are going to try to grow more of it this year to accommodate those requests. We grow it yearly, but just enough for our family. It will go in the ground this month.

Eggs are back! We took them down at the end of January when we saw the slow down happening. Although we still had some laying, it wasn’t enough to support outside of our family and friends. My Dad is a major part of HHF and I can’t have him be without his eggs!!!

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Yesterday was a huge work day here on the farm. Hence the delay in this update. We cleared, we planted, and we even introduced you to Mr. Piggy. He is the newest  member of HHF. Porkchop as my Dad calls him will not be for sale. Although we don’t eat it, my parents love pork and so we’re “finally” going to raise a pig for them. As always we’ve prayed, researched, and planned. I have to say that he has already figured out how to escape twice so we’re going to hot wire the fence so he will learn. The squeals of a baby pig as you pick them up is beyond words. If you’ve heard it then you definitely understand. We will try to keep you informed as he grows.

We appreciate your continued support of our family farm and look forward to updating you again next month. Until then….

 

 

Spring 2020 Plant Sale

Are you a home gardener? Would you like to be one? Love growing your own food and knowing where that food came from? Well we have got some plants for you!

2019 was the start of a new tradition for us when we held our first annual plant sale in the Spring. That sale was a success and we are ecstatic to do it again this year for its second season!

The last frost date for our area jumped a few days to March 13th and our plant sale will start just before then on March 1st. We’ve partnered with our sister farm, Bain Home Gardens to offer you a chance to grow your own garden.

This year we are offering a variety of tomatoes from cherries to big juicy beefstakes. Both mild and spicy peppers, eggplants, and a few herbs too! We will even be offering some mystery tomatoes for those of you who like a surprise.

The sale will be for the entire month of March and possibly into April if we don’t sell out before then. More varieties will be placed online as they become available.

Pre-order your favorites or try something new. Hop on over to our shop page and check out the garden section to choose yours today.

 

Growing Now! (February 2020)

How in the world is it the end of January already?!?! I promise you that the year just started and tomorrow it will be February. It’s almost like I blinked and the whole month flew by.

There is SO much going and “growing” on with us in the new year. We’ve had an influx of new followers to our site, so I want to take out some time and introduce myself to you, our family, and our farm. This is not something we normally do, but as our farm grows, we still want to keep that personal touch so here goes….

My name is Rachel and Hawkins Homestead Farm is owned and operated by myself and my husband, Brandon. We have 2 boys at home and they help as well with day to day operations. Although we live in Kinsey now, we’re original New Yorkers having moved here in late 2015.

I believe in all things organic! Not necessarily USDA organic, but more like created by God. Like found in nature or naturally occurring. This carries on through the food we eat and what we put on our bodies. This belief has guided our farm practices here and so we grow and produce vegetables, eggs, fruit, and poultry that is always chemical free. 

We don’t have an agricultural background, so everything we’ve learned has been through prayer, research, planning, preparation, and of course trial and error.

We are avid supporters of local farms and small businesses. Especially those owned by women and people of color!

We try our best to know our customers by their names. This is important to us. We want you to know your farmers and your farmers want to know you! If you’ve been around for a while then you know that you can always text, call, or email. Text is best though!

Ok so now that we’re formally introduced or maybe refreshed, let’s get into the growing portion……

As we usher in February we get into Spring mode! Of course it’s not Spring yet, but we are definitely planting for it. Last year we had our very first plant sale and I’m happy to tell you that our “Spring Starts” will be available this year again as well. We have found that many of you like to grow your own food and since our area has very little to offer by way of organic and heirloom plants, we’ve got you covered. The dates will be announced soon.

In the coming month we are also gearing up for our Kith & Kin CSA Spring season. Speaking of, did you know that Kith & Kin now has its very own website?!? Well now you do! We invite you to check it out here. All future updates for the CSA will happen over there so if you’re interested, we ask that you follow us on that page as well. Kith & Kin is also offering a “try it” session that starts on February 6th. All the details for it are here.

By way of poultry news, the chickens will continue to be harvested in February to fulfill orders. At each harvest we are also harvesting a few extra for those of you who need a last minute chicken. These are available through our shop page. Here is one that we seasoned and prepared to be roasted. The seasoning is a mixture of organic rosemary from our farm and one of our favorites from 2 The Olive Fruit. If you visit there, tell Louis you want Rachel’s favorite seasoning. He’ll know which one it is!

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If you’re looking for eggs, they’ve been taken down from the shop page temporarily. Our birds are finally taking a break with the colder temps and rain and since we always let them, the eggs have been removed from the site while they are on hiatus. We still have eggs, just not as many. If you need some, please contact me and I will update you on what we have. This is something that happens every year, usually in the Fall but since it was still so warm, some laid right through it. Not to mention the birds that hatched in the Spring, are still laying even now.

In veggie news, so much is growing in the farm. Some of our mustards and Asian cabbages were lost in the big freeze, but we still have plenty of other greens growing. What was lost will be replanted this weekend.

Peas started showing up in January and they will be listed soon. Broccoli has also shown up with these beautiful florets that look like individual baby bouquets. It’s just so pretty.
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There’s kohlrabi, kale, beets, radishes, and carrots. We are growing in plenty. We are even growing a special request that we’ll tell you more about later.

As always we thank you for taking time out to read about our family farm and we look forward to welcoming you back next month. Until then…..

 

 

Growing Now! (2019 Year in Review)

Do you remember when you were younger and those shows would come on? You know the ones picturing what they thought this time period would look like?

Weren’t we all supposed to have flying cars by now? Well that didn’t happen, but what did? What has 2019 brought you? What plans do you have for 2020? Lets stroll down memory lane as we share our year in review and what plans we have for 2020.

We started out the year in January when our farm entered a contest  along with Bain Home Gardens (BHG). The winners would be awarded a grant. Our goal was to win funding for a greenhouse which would allow us to create a CSA for the Wiregrass.

Everyone knows that we didn’t win that contest, but we did win! We saw the love and support of our community through many votes and this made us realize just how many of you wanted better access to clean food.

As a result, Kith & Kin CSA was born! We originally had this idea in 2018, but honestly we were scared! Shena of BHG and I researched, we prayed, we planned out a schedule and everything for the Fall of 2018. We even talked to our husbands about it. Ultimately the timing wasn’t right and there were just too many what ifs…..so our idea was put on hold.

When we finally did launch Kith & Kin in February, the community response was overwhelming! It was just so humbling to see how people trusted US to feed them and their families. Honestly, it still really is! Every time our current members renew or someone new signs up, it confirms just how much we’re meant for this farming life.

Planting was done all of February and into March with the exception of our yearly break and then in April, Kith & Kin began. We grew food and we fed families, thanking God all along the way! Every delivery was a success and we were in awe of the things we learned and how much we grew! 

Speaking of learning, this is an ongoing process for us and we’ve been able to meet some wonderful people from it. Both Brandon and I have gone to conferences, forums, and classes.

Farming is a science and learning to work within the boundaries of nature and chemical free has truly been amazing. Thank you to those of you who personally went out of your way to contact us, make space for us, and who made sure we knew what to do and how to do it. We appreciate you more than we could ever say!

WE FOUND LAND!

We’ve searched for 2 years and the land we found was a blessing just waiting for us! It was full of trees, but virgin ground was a must. Why? Well because healthy soil is the foundation of life for plants and animals? Hence, this was not something we could be flexible on. Not to worry, we will share our progress with you as it further develops in 2020.

This past September, Kith & Kin had its Fall season and we were ecstatic to have returning members and new ones too! It closed in November just in time for a much needed hiatus, but of course the planting never really stops. Pictured below is just some of what we produced throughout this year.

In the coming months we will continue to baby these greens we have growing and more will be planted. Much colder days are needed for crops like garlic and this usually happens in January. The colder temps help them produce those big garlic bulbs in the Summer.

By way of root vegetables, carrots will be succession planted in January along with radishes, and turnips. We will also have some surprises going into the ground that will be for our members only.

We have acquired some new animals by accident on the farm in the form of moles. We started to see trails of land that was burrowed through and asked some questions. In the 3 years that we’ve farmed on this property, we’ve never had one mole, but now that we do Brandon and I are looking at chemical free ways to evict the uninvited squatters.

Apparently they are looking for bugs….Those they can have, but we don’t want them anywhere near our roots. Our research tells us that they will also feed on roots of plants growing underground and we can’t have that!

If you’ve had experience with moles, please share. We are taking suggestions, ideas, really any chemical free way to prevent them. So far we’ve seen coffee grounds, castor oil, and garlic….all things we CAN do, but we want to do what works!

We have been busy taking inventory of our seed stock and ordering more. Please remember that we grow to order, so if you have a request, let us know. If we can find the organic or heirloom seed and it will grow in our area, we will try our best to do just that. 

Our Winter harvest will take place in just a few short weeks. Many of you will be able to grab your chickens that you’ve waited so patiently for and some for the first time. Please let us know your thoughts! If you’ve been looking for a better chicken option, look no further! You can reserve yours here.

Thank you for supporting our family farm this past year! Thank you for trusting our family to feed yours. Thank you for supporting local and spending your dollars in your community.

We hope to bring you so much more in next year, so please stick around for the journey and I will see you next month. Until then…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Now! (December)

Yes that says December, but where did the year go?!? Seems like it was just March and now we’re starting December…..mind blown! Of course in our area, we don’t get that snowy Winter Wonderland pictured, but it fits the month anyway.

If you’ve followed us for any length of time you know that we plant year round for our family and yours. We just ended our Fall Kith & Kin CSA in November so we had a bit of a break, but we’re right back to continuously planting Fall and Winter greens plus so much more for our Spring season which is open NOW.

So what’s growing on the farm? CHICKENS! 🤣😂 Yes that’s right! We have gotten so many inquires from people who are looking for clean, fresh, organic chicken! Our waitlist has grown extensively so while we’re in the off season from our CSA, we are growing chickens to not only fulfill our waitlist orders, but also to have more available on a right now basis. This means the birds will be frozen, but we heard you guys loud and clear. We’re listening to the feedback and more chicken is on the way!

Along those same chicken lines we have also been hatching (with help) and acquiring female chicks. Our Kith & Kin CSA has a new Egg Share for the Spring season and we have many orders to fulfill. So we should be swimming in eggs just in time for the season to begin. Of course you can always order eggs year round as our hens are killing it this year. Their laying slowed a little during their early molt, but even with the shorter days we have been getting so many fresh eggs daily. So grab a dozen or more here.

By way of produce, we’ve had several plantings of garlic and we are so excited about planting it in plenty. We eat ALOT of garlic and onions year round and have recently learned that most garlic grown and sold in the US is imported from China. That’s no where near local! So we are happy to grow garlic right here in Southeast Alabama!

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Speaking of onions, we have started them from seed and they are growing stronger day by day. Some smaller onions we had leftover from Spring were used as sets and they are in the ground now. We can’t say for sure they they will develop a bulb, but green onions are delicious too so we will take them!

Collards are growing and although the bugs have found them, they are doing nicely. You can expect to see them up on the site in the next few weeks.

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Mustards are planted here each year. We just can’t seem to get enough of them. They go great mixed in a salad or can be cooked in a variety of ways.

Do you guys know about Choi? It’s an Asian cabbage that is delicious! We started growing it last year and it made its way back for another appearance! Choi is extremely versatile and we love it. We hope you do too.

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As always, we’re so glad to have you here each month. We are YOUR farmers and without the support of the community, there would be no us! So we hope to see you back next month where will we close out 2019 and fill you in on all that we’re looking forward to in 2020. Until then…..

 

Kith & Kin CSA Earlybird Offer Extended!

We’ve got GREAT NEWS! Kith & Kin Earlybird offer has been extended past Black Friday into the entire month of December!!!

We know that many of you will be looking to eat better in the coming new year and having a basket of fresh produce delivered to your door step should make it easier!

So when you become a CSA member between now and the entire month of December you also get a FREE jar of jam or jelly made fresh with in season fruits then preserved to last the entire year.

In addition, you gain a relationship with your farmers. We are here for you during your food journey.

You also get exclusive access to our Facebook group and weekly newsletters where we provide recipes, farm updates, and teach you storage tips along with how to use the food. The group is a community where everyone is invited to share, asks questions, gain knowledge, and even post your creations. (Side note: You’re not required for share. You can sit back and enjoy, but we’d like you to)

When you’re ready, click here to purchase. We would love to have you as a member!

Growing Now! (November)

Welcome back to another segment of “Growing Now.” If you’re new to our page, this is a blog that is sent out monthly where we update you on not just what’s growing on our farm, but also what’s happening with us in general. Thank you for being here. We hope you enjoy reading all about our family farm.

It came! It’s here! Fall has arrived and brought the rain with it! Was it just us or did anyone else want to scream hallelujah as the first drops fell? These radishes we’re loving the rain. 

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Along with the rain came cooler temperatures and that means that our cool season veggies can finally thrive. Below you will find just a few items from our Asian gardens.

In chicken news, every Fall we expand our flocks in order to have more eggs for Spring and this year we’re expanding in more ways than one.

Brandon has been hard at work constructing a new temporary coop for our younger flock members who aren’t quite ready for integration.

We have struggled with hatching chicks ourselves so we’ve been letting the hens hatch for us. Unfortunately this takes forever as we wait for them to go broody. It puts us behind schedule and we just can’t be running out of eggs! Here is a close up look at some babies that our special friends hatched for us. They also shared some research and best practices so we will be trying those to see if we can have a better hatch rate.

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In other poultry news, thank you everyone who has loyally ordered birds and waited patiently while they grew to harvesting size. We appreciate you all!

As I type this we are beefing up our flocks and they should be ready soon.

Not to worry, if you placed orders for November, they are right on time and we will contact you to set up delivery.

We are super excited about eating OUR own turkey again and we plan to carve and ground some up for our family freezer. We know that a lot of people don’t think of eating turkey outside of the holiday periods, but for us it has been a staple food that we eat regularly.

This month we will wrap up our Kith & Kin Fall season. We had some great baskets and offered produce exclusive to our CSA members. Here is a sneak peek at our half and full share baskets.

Both farms are expanding and we hope to welcome our current members back and add new ones for our Spring season as well. So keep those eyes and ears open!

Having a produce basket delivered to your door weekly is invaluable! Whether you want to gear more towards a plant based diet or are just looking to improve your overall health or eat more veggies, we hope you will give us a try soon.

In growing news, there is so much growing on the farm right now! From greens like Swiss chard to roots like radishes, turnips, and beets. We are excited for all the Fall greens that are coming back like our collards and lettuce blends.

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Speaking of lettuce, fresh salad is a force to be reckoned with and this year we will be rolling out head lettuce to those of you who’ve been looking for them.

Carrots are coming back and we can’t wait! The taste of a “just pulled” carrot is unlike any other. So expect many carrots coming your way.

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The sweet potato harvest was a success and there is one more batch in the ground. These will be pulled In the next few weeks. Sadly there wasn’t enough for everyone, so we kept these for our family, but also gave out a sample to our Kith & Kin CSA members.

Our family had baked sweet potatoes the other night and I have to say there is nothing like growing and eating your own food. The funny thing is that as we expand, the more we get asked about beef, and pork. I can tell you now that we are no where near ready for all of that, but maybe someday……I’m still trying to convince Brandon to get bees right now!

As we gain more customers, we love researching, growing, and offering new items. With this year almost coming to a close we start to review our successes and failures. Then the process starts for planning out next year. So if you have something that you would like us to grow, let us know! We’re here for you! We grow for you! Our customers are what fuels us and we love this farm life! See you back here next month!

 

What is Success?

Success. It’s truly different to everyone based on your individual goals, but it’s something everyone wants to achieve. Let me tell you what success looks like for us.

Almost 9 months ago we decided to officially jump out on our own. Hawkins Homestead Farm was growing and that growth showed us just a glimpse of what we could really be. Many prayers are always said before making any decisions and although scary, we had faith in God and confidence in ourselves that if we continued to do things the right way, we would be successful.

As we go into November, I’m in awe of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I personally feel the love and support of the community and Im so thankful for each and every single one of you!

I’m thankful to my family, for our sister farm, Bain Home Gardens, thankful to all the Markets that have hosted us, thankful for all the new partnerships and friends we’ve made this year like The Olive Fruit, and Hangry Harrisons.

Of course I’ve learned so much from strong courageous women like Suzanne of Gaucho Farms, and Rinske from Working Cows. Thankful to our special friends in Cottonwood who’ve helped us so much with their knowledge and kindness. I’m even thankful for those who tried to fashion their business after ours. This list is definitely not all inclusive, but everyone of you have contributed to our success and pushed us to be better. So thank you!

I’ve laughed, cried, went through EVERY emotion and had to apologize later for it. I’ve wondered why there are SO MANY bugs and wanted to kill EVERY single one on the property.

I’ve learned that despite every obstacle, there’s a solution, and I am proud to say that we have never compromised!

This year has been one where we’ve grown as farmers, as people, and just overall.

Our CSA, Kith & Kin has such wonderful members and each time we deliver a basket to someone’s door is a “hallelujah moment!”

Our farm isn’t always pretty. It doesn’t always smell the best, but we stand behind our organic practices, we produce clean food, our customers are happy, and we are ALWAYS willing to learn from others.

So we, who will never do everything perfect in this life and who don’t make or have lots of money, we are a success and again we thank you for it.

Growing Now! (October)

It’s officially October today and for us that means lots of planting! Yes, we always plant throughout the year, but since this year has been filled with lots of heat and little rain we staggered some items for later.

Speaking of later, have you seen the projected forecast for next week? 80’s! Who would have ever thought we would be happy about 80 degree weather? Well after the high 90’s, 80 should feel like a cold front coming in from the West. There may even be rain!

Last month we mentioned that our sweet potato harvest would be ready towards the end of September, and it is! We just have to harvest it. So please stay tuned for sweet potatoes…soon!

We are still in the phase of saving some of Summer while waiting on Fall to ACTUALLY begin. This means we still have tomatoes and peppers on the farm. Plus cucumbers, beans, and okra too. Most of these were succession planted so that our Kith & Kin CSA members could enjoy produce from both seasons. The picture shown was from our family garden.

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Radishes are on the Fall menu. You can see them below in our CSA basket from Week 2. Of course Kith & Kin produce comes from two farms, so we can’t take all the credit. Thank you Bain Home Gardens for being our Sister Farm. You can find their produce and more over on our shop page.

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We have plans for garlic to go into the ground this month. We are growing from our very own organic stock and we couldn’t be happier about it! Every year we’re so thankful for what we learn and to be able to save and plant from our own stock is truly invaluable.

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Of course we couldn’t bring in Fall without staple items like collards, mustards, and kale. Those are on the menu too! By now, you should all know that there is ALWAYS more, but we have to have you back next month right? Until then….