Acres of Love 22

A highly successful product line and a thriving floral business prove that a small farm can cultivate big ideas.

Making her way through colorful aisles of lisianthus, zinnias, and more, Natasha McCrary’s smile broadens as affectionate ‘Babydoll’ Southdown sheep nuzzle into her open arms. “I love everything about the farm, but the sheep are my favorite,” says Natasha, whose passion for nature, affinity for flowers, and entrepreneurial spirit sustain 1818 Farms in the tiny north Alabama town of Mooresville.

When her family bought a rare breed of sheep in the early 2000s, Natasha’s new farming life unfurled, inspiring her to create therapeutic-grade bath and body products. She honors the sweet-faced fauna and other resident creatures by incorporating their likenesses into the 1818 Farms collection of pampering products and more. “What better way to share my love [for the animals] than by having them as our cover guys and cover girls on the products?”

Natasha started developing the collection when she couldn’t find high-quality remedies for the physical effects of farm labor. “My hands were so dry; my cuticles were horrible; I couldn’t find a lip balm that worked,” says the founder, who has reaped awards for her luxurious goods that are sold online and in specialty stores across the country.

Available in various scents and an unscented option, hand-whipped Shea Creme made of coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils is a steadfast favorite, and a smiling ewe is pictured on the jar. Clover’s Lip Smack lip balm features a playful miniature pig by the same name, and a mischievous Nubian goat called Farrah is the face of Lavender Goat’s Milk Bath Tea, the company’s premier offering.

After adopting the first sheep, Natasha left her job in the nonprofit arena to spend more time tending the land and pursuing ventures that would support her family of five. She planted produce and lavender as a trial run for her ultimate goal: harvesting a variety of beautiful blooms. “I could talk your ear off about flowers all day long,” says Natasha, who attributes her success to tireless research and a lot of trial and error.

Not only does she sell tulips, anemones, and more by the stem from a vintage pickup truck that travels to area retail shops, but she also preserves the flora that does not sell fresh. “We’re trying to have zero waste,” says Natasha, who fashions one-of-a-kind dried floral wreaths and sachets of dehydrated petals for wedding confetti. From July through September, she leads design workshops for flower enthusiasts eager to wander through more than 32 meticulously maintained rows of blooms and to craft their own arrangement with Natasha’s skillful guidance.

“People come down here and see how beautiful it is, and she makes it look easy,” says Natasha’s husband, Lawrence, who joined his wife fulltime after selling his hospice company in 2012.

The couple also hosts several Open Farm Days a year and an annual sheep shearing demonstration. Reservations are required and spaces are limited, but admission is free for all ages. “That’s part of our give back,” says Natasha. “Education is a huge part of our mission, and we want them to leave with an experience they won’t forget.”

Whether people come to support the farm through the merchandise, the flowers, or the family’s social media videos of adorable lambs, Natasha takes pride in their work. “What makes 1818 Farms so special is the authenticity of being a true working farm, a producer of handmade goods, and an educational outlet for the community,” she says. “It makes me happy that [visitors] always say, ‘It’s just like what we thought it would be.’”

For information, visit 1818farms.com .