Stone Hollow

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Stone Hollow Farmstead, a goat farm in Harpersville. I found out about the lovely place via a Living Social coupon offer. I took a friend from church ; it’s nice to know people who will say yes when you ask, “Want to go to a goat farm?”

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Anyway, it was a perfect Tuesday morning when we arrived for our tour and tasting. The goats were adorable, the cheese delicious. The 80-acre farm also boasts chickens, cows, horses, a few rabbits and a bull, though he may not be around much longer. Beautiful raised beds gardens provide various herbs and produce for The Pantry in Crestline.

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The artisan cheeses are crafted on site by hand, as are a selection of jams, syrups, and pickles. After the tasting, I had a hard time making up my mind, but I finally decided on the Fig Cheese.

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If you want a nice drive to the country, or are hankering to pet a goat, or would like some delicious cheese, head out to Stone Hollow Farmstead.

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A Day Downtown

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Today we enjoyed a trip downtown. First we went back to Pepper Place, our first trip this season. There I bought some Strawberry Preserves from Jim Suttle of Mountain Meadows Farms. As an organic farmer, Mr. Suttle knows how to “make lemonade out of lemons”. He uses no pesticides, so when this year’s strawberry crop had problems because of the excess rain, he salvaged some of the berries to make preserves. I then visited Red Rubin Nursery where I got a Chocolate Mint plant and some advice on how to keep it alive.

After a few more purchases, we went on the Magic City Art Connection at Linn Park.  There we found a huge selection of art for every taste. Some favorite artists were Marcus Ryan, Walt Stricklin, and Rick & Linda Bachman, Sarah Bean and Julie Schwarz.

Out last stop was the Birmingham Public Library where we happily stumbled upon a book sale! I got two: Once there Was a War by John Steinbeck and The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes which held a sweet surprise – a letter to someone named Sarah. I love when I fall upon such treasures. I once found a baptismal certificate and a photograph from the 1940s in a book I bought at a different library’s sale.

The rain held off while we were out, so all in all it was a good day!

The Charming Town of Helena

A good introduction to Helena comes through the small Farmers Market that is held there every Saturday. What other such market has southern belles (the Helena Belles) to greet you? Along with numerous vendors of fresh produce, shoppers may also find fresh bread, sweet smelling soap, or even a cookbook. In the background are musical notes from local entertainers and the hum of buyers and sellers and neighbors greeting each other. From vendors offering to take a purchase to the car of an elderly customer, to sellers giving out samples and explaining how to cook their beans, examples of kindness and good customer service abound.

Here are some of the local vendors to be found on a Saturday morning:

K and S Farms – lots of fresh, seasonal produce

Taylor Hatchet Boozer Farms – think peaches!

Cheeky Maiden Soap – made with pure olive oil, pure palm oil, and pure coconut oil

Mixon Farms – Owner Jared Mixon has also started a market in Chilton County

Five Points Farms – check out their facebook page HERE

Prattville Honey Farms – owner Allen Mills has been farming for over 20 years

B.B. Bread – started seven years ago; specializes in sourdough bread

Southern Natural Soap – made with goat’s milk

Little Bit Southern -this is where you can find a cookbook

Another treat is the guest chef demonstration. Recent appearances have been made by Chris Vizzina, Executive Chef and President of Campus Dining, Inc. at Samford University, and Matthew Guy Lagace of Bellinis Ristorante. You can check out the Helena Market Blog HERE for some delicious recipes.

After shopping, a stroll down a path, under the road and across an open grassy area will take you to the “falls” at the Buck Creek Dam. Here you may find picnickers, photographers, and kids wading in the cool waters. It’s almost like a step back in time.

In town there are many quaint shops in which to browse and buy. These will be featured in a later post, so stay tuned!

Mountain Meadows Farm

1824 Hwy 30 – Columbiana, Al 35051  

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When we went to Pepper Place Farmers Market a few weeks ago we got some delicious strawberries. What drew me to these particular berries was the fact that they are grown without using any chemicals.

So I got my new neighbor, Suzanne, to ride out to the country with me to pick berries at Mountain Meadows Farm in Columbiana. Owner Jim Suttle describes himself as an Alabama Dirt Farmer and his slogan is “It’s all about the soil.”

We took a lot of back roads, depending solely on Flo, my phone’s GPS gal, to get us there. We were relieved and happy to see the sign for the farm and turned in.  Farmer Suttle had us follow his truck back to the berry patches and provided us with baskets to hold our berries.  (We also tasted a few as we went along the rows – so yummy!

For our return trip we took a different route that was less country roads and more highways. I am looking forward to going back next month when the blueberries and blackberries will be ready. Hopefully it will coincide with the time when some of his vegetables will also be ready.

If you like fresh, chemical free produce, check out Mountain Meadows Farm. Then, go back in December to get a fresh Christmas tree.

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Pepper Place and the Great Radish Discovery

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After having unpacked boxes all week, I was so glad to get out of the house today. We decided to find the Saturday Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham. I am grateful for GPS as there were a lot of turns to take. When we got there I was pleasantly surprised to find so much fresh produce. I’d gone online and found the vendors who practiced organic growing methods, so we tried to buy from them first.

One thing I bought was a bunch of radishes. Now, I’ve only had them in salads, but as I was researching the best way to keep them fresh, I discovered two things.

  1. You can eat the leaves – which we did in our salad at supper.
  2. Other people eat them with bread and butter. I tried this and can’t believe I’ve missed out on this all my life – it was delicious!

If you want fresh produce, coffee, soap, jewelry, music , and much more, visit Pepper Place.

Pepper Place

2829 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35233.