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All about fresh food
When BJ and Amanda Callahan met in college, Amanda was on a cooking kick. She was rolling her own pasta, throwing together gourmet meatballs, baking her own bread, and generally jumping headfirst into the culinary world.
After countless homemade meals, Amanda found herself saying, “Why can’t we grow this ourselves?” which marked the beginning of the couple’s love of gardening.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
The great expansion
After five years of planting herbs in windowboxes and produce in small beds around their Denver, Colorado home, the couple had the opportunity to take over 15 acres of land in the northwestern tip of South Carolina, much closer to their families.
“We wanted more space,” Amanda says. “We wanted to fully pursue this idea of growing our own food and contributing to local agriculture.”Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
A labor of love
"We love food," says BJ. "It will continue to only ever be about food."
Their passion for fresh food and love of gardening helped them transition into a lifestyle as part-time farmers. Amanda continues to work full-time, but BJ is self-employed and has a more flexible schedule.
“When you start doing this farming thing, you kind of stop adding up your hours because it’s really more of a labor of love,” BJ says.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
Starting from scratch
When they arrived on their new property three years ago, they had their work cut out for them since the 15 acres were almost completely wooded. They had a small part of the land cleared, but kept every log that was cut to use as lumber and for bonfire wood.
“We had to build everything from scratch, which turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences,” BJ says.
They created a home for themselves, constructed a couple raised beds with the logs harvested from their property, and cared for about a dozen hens that first year. Today, the couple manages nearly 80 hens, 200 meat hens, a small greenhouse, six raised beds, three hogs, and a small fruit orchard.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
Growing a variety
Callywood Farms produces everything from pears to eggs to kohlrabi. They’ve even added pecan trees planted in honor of their two-year-old daughter, Aria.
“The garden really just sustains us, which is a nice thing,” BJ says. “Our only real goal was to be as self-sustaining as we could.”
The Callahans use their resources when it comes to preparing meals for their family. A multitude of vegetables and fruits are collected and used as main courses, as well as their eggs, pork, and chicken raised on the farm.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
'The egg people'
To make their farming endeavors profitable, the family sells their free-range chicken eggs and homemade granola at their community farmers market. Within an hour or two, the Callywood Farms eggs are usually sold out no matter how many dozen they bring.
“Our community knows us as the egg people,” Amanda says.
Amanda has also made an effort to bring a different kind of granola to the farmers market each week. Her homemade recipes are usually based on what is in season, but her chai spice and cranberry ginger varieties have been a hit with customers.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
The Callahans have nothing to hide when it comes to the way they raise their animals and produce. The couple encourages customers and friends to come on out to their farm and see just how their hens live and what it means, exactly, to raise free-range poultry.
“When I’m at the farmers market I am constantly engaging in that informal dialogue with customers,” Amanda says. “And we offer recipe cards with our eggs and granola, so there is that education piece we’re formally doing.”Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
Connecting through technology
Armed with a drive to educate others, BJ and Amanda have begun a Callywood Farms podcast to help friends, customers, and even strangers connect with agriculture.
“There’s really not a whole lot out there is terms of farming podcasts and we want to continue that community,” BJ says. “All the equipment was kind of in place for it.”
BJ, a musician who also works as a sound technician, had plenty of equipment to produce the roughly 40 minute episodes. He and Amanda agree that although there are plenty of quality agricultural blogs to educate, there aren’t many options for those who may not have time to regularly read them. Amanda, for instance, listens to podcasts while she works in the garden.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
Engaging the community
Callywood Farms hosted an event on their farm this past summer that included live music on an outdoor stage, smoked pork and chicken that was raised on the farm, and customers, friends, and family that brought their favorite dishes to share.
The event had nearly 50 people in attendance and was a great way to promote the farm’s practices, products, and other local farms.Date Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
The future of Callywood Farms
“Our hope is to one day be doing something like a CSA program, but we’re a long way from that,” Amanda says. “We’re still learning how to grow food on our property.”
The family also hopes to raise hogs for customers in the coming years.
BJ & Amanda Callahan
firstname.lastname@example.orgDate Published: August 4, 2014Date Updated: August 4, 2014
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