A 30-minute drive from downtown Birmingham transports you to another world. At Stone Hollow Farm, you’ll trade high-rise buildings for clear blue skies. Swap the rush of a workday commute for the tranquility of goats carelessly grazing in an open field. And see our state through the eyes of Deborah Stone and her daughter Alexandra “Alex” Stone Flowers. The duo are the brains and brawn behind Stone Hollow Farmstead, an 80-acre farm in Harpersville that produces everything from goat cheese, honey, and pickled veggies to floral bouquets, essential oils, and cosmetics.
After working for more than 30 years in the aesthetic, cosmetic, and medispa industries, Deborah founded Stone Hollow Farmstead in 1999 with the intention of providing her children the opportunity to experience the relaxed farm life she grew up with.
“It’s been wonderful to share my life as a child with [Alex] and all of my other children and grands,” Deborah says.
What began as a small European horse breeding facility quickly blossomed into a full-fledged produce, dairy, and botanical farm. Today, Stone Hollow Farmstead is home to a dairy, creamery, cannery, botanical and herb processing laboratory, and several produce, flower, and herb fields. The farm also supports two farmstands, one in Harpersville and one in downtown Birmingham’s Pepper Place district, where they sell a curated collection of food, home, gift, beauty, and lifestyle products from their farm, as well as from other local and national makers.
While a farm, two retail stores, a CSA, flower program, and skincare company are certainly a lot to keep up with, for Deborah and Alex, that’s part of Stone Hollow’s magic. There’s always something new to explore when it comes to what can be created from the land. That natural curiosity, paired with Deborah’s background in the beauty industry, is what led to the formation of Botaniko Skin, a small-batch skincare and aromatherapy company that uses herbal extracts, hydrosols, and essential oils created from plants grown and processed on the farm.
“Alex loves blending perfumes and making herbal extracts,” Deborah says. “It’s been very rewarding to share my knowledge with her and then see where and how she develops it into new and exciting products.”
Outside of experimenting with new skincare and beauty products (plus a new line of CBD products), Alex is Stone Hollow’s creative director and brand visionary. She sees developing the vision for the labeling and marketing of new products as an important part of telling the farm’s story. For example, the farm’s Bloody Mary mixes were each given their own personality with names like “Ordinary Mary” and “Loaded Mary.”Alex also publishes weekly blogs for CSA participants where she details the origin of the week’s bounty and provides tips and recipes for how to use them.
For the hardworking ladies behind Stone Hollow Farmstead and Farmstands, innovation is a 24/7, 365-day pursuit. They’re always thinking of new and exciting ways to utilize their produce, whether that be by developing a new tomato jam recipe or having the foresight to create ice pops from an excess of summer melons.
In 2021, Deborah says they’ll focus on improving the various programs they offer. A recent refreshing of their CSA program involved the creation of a private Facebook group where participants can find exclusive recipes and build community with other CSA members. The flower program will also get a new look, and Stone Hollow plans to expand their delivery program. In late 2021, the farm will debut an Advent calendar featuring goodies from Stone Hollow Farmstand.
In the past two decades, a simple dairy farm known for its award-winning goat cheese has become an incredible testament to all the good Alabama has to offer when left in the care of the right hands. For Deborah, her passion for Stone Hollow is simple.
“I love it all, but what motivates me is the creation of it all,” she says. “I love starting with a seed and ending up with an active ingredient for our skincare or a beautiful oil for perfumes.”