Rise to the moment of truth Saturday, December 3, 2022

Farm
to
Table

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Joy Haven Farm owner Sheila Dicks with her granddaughter. Photo by Sheila Dicks.

Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness.

-Thomas Jefferson

Eat seasonally and eat locally! That is what Sheila, owner of Joy Haven Farm emphasized. At Joy Haven Farm, they are passionate about growing nutrient-rich food while using sustainable practices. Joy Haven Farm is not your average farm stand.

They make it a priority to work on improving their soil with every planting and choose not to use harmful chemicals in their growing practices. This helps ensure healthy, nutrient-rich soil and produce. There is no doubt that you are receiving fresh vegetables when you get them from Joy Haven.

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Photo by Sheila Dicks.
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Photo by Sheila Dicks.

Sheila is very passionate about her work. She shared that she has always been a nurturer and that is very helpful in gardening and farming. “It brings me joy to provide good organic foods to so many families," said Sheila. "This is my strongest passion and the reason I continue to do it.”

The farm started off as a part-time thing until after many years in the medical field and a surgery that put her out for 10 weeks happened. During the time away from her full-time job, her passion for gardening only grew stronger. With the support of her husband and family, they made the decision to move to full-time.

This decision was a huge leap of faith for the family. “Growing in the great State of Alabama is not for the weak at heart,'' mentioned Sheila. "It takes a lot of time and dedication. It also takes the willingness to learn continuously."

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Photo by Sheila Dicks.
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Photo by Sheila Dicks.
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Photo by Sheila Dicks.

Even as a young child, Sheila spent time out in the garden with her mother. The love to garden and grow runs deep in her blood. She understands the time and dedication needed to be successful. “There is such a sense of pride in knowing that what we do as a family provides healthy foods for so many,” said Sheila

Joy Haven Farm has definitely been a family effort, from the designing of the logo to the marketing ideas and working together to make sure that the fruits of their labor are available to all who desire it. Even the sweet grandchildren have played a part in helping as well. The harvesting times seem to be their favorite.

Though Joy Haven Farm started in many local farm stands, the family made the decision to transition to a CSA. This is a community supported agriculture farm in which the consumer or customer invests up front and then they are able to reap the benefits of the farm shares.

When they first started, they had 20 members. Today, Joy Haven Farm serves 110 families.

You could hear the complete joy in Sheila’s voice as we talked about this. Knowing that these families were able to provide their family with organic, certified naturally grown fruits and vegetables is the reason for working so hard.

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Photo by Sheila Dicks.

I asked Sheila about the relationships that she has built with these families, she said “All of the relationships may not be made by face-to-face contact, but by the benefits, they reap from the labor of love at Joy Haven Farm and knowing that all of those families are sitting at the dinner table together sharing a meal from my garden.”

Sheila also shared that it is very important to support the locals. Joy Haven Farm is very supportive of other local farmers and purchases some things from them that are included in the shares of the CSA.

Sheila has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gardening, but says that things are always changing and improving. The learning never stops and the improvements to provide the very best continue.

“In the beginning there were failures, that comes with the territory, but continuing to do research and have a strong dedication turned those failures into big successes,” said Sheila.

Sheila also shared how important it is for us to know that eating seasonally is as important as eating locally. “God designed our bodies to eat certain foods during certain seasons for a reason” mentioned Sheila. “We need to take more time to search out local farmers and invest in them, they depend on us. It takes a bit more time, but the benefits are so worth it.”

These days, it is so easy to stop and grab the processed foods. Let’s take a minute to get back to the old way. Sign up for the CSA at Joy Haven Farm, involve your family, maybe learn to can and prepare for the future. Being well prepared never hurts.

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Photo by Sheila Dicks.

Eat locally, eat seasonally, and continue to support your local farmers!

If you would like to take a moment to check out Joy Haven Farm, go here.

They are now offering a weekend farm stand pickup. To sign up and get on the list, visit here.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email ashley.carter@1819news.com.

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