McLeod Family Farm
by Julia McLeod
January 31, 2023
In 2000 after acquiring my family's old home place and acreage in old Hopewell, Alabama, my husband and I along with our two boys (now 27 and 20) went to work on our dreams and the restoration process began. Some of our best years were spent camping out of tents on the weekends before we were able to finally dry in the original 125-year-old farmhouse that has been passed down now for five generations. During those long summers we started building raised beds, installed endless fruit trees, blueberry bushes, muscadine vines, and started slowly adding small animals to help further our children’s education on the farm.
I have always enjoyed growing vegetables with my father starting from a very young age. What intended to be a small hobby farm to grow fruit and veggies for family, took a turn in 2017 when my father brought home a one gallon bag of mixed zinnia seeds. Needless to say, flowers have since become a top producer for our farm and each year has continued to grow to supply the amazing support we have received from our local surrounding communities. At this time our farm concentrates mainly with direct to consumer sales weekly from “Ruby” our 1964 Ford farm truck, monthly bouquet subscriptions and on the farm educational workshops.
On our farm we grow over 25 different seasonal annuals and perennials. Our most recent project was adding a 30 x 100 foot unheated greenhouse in order to implement season extension with our speciality cut flower varieties.
All seasons carry a very special place in my heart here on the farm; however, as February approaches we start to get extremely excited for daffodil and tulip season. This year will mark our eighth year of growing spring bulbs. As much hard work that goes into these labor intense field grown blooms, it’s worth every bit once that big bundle is securely wrapped with a big satin bow to bring that special smile to someone’s face. Daffodil and tulip season are the first sight of our growing season where all aspects of the farm start to come to life with its spring beauty.
This month, as we prepare for the 2023 growing season, we are busy on the farm starting seeds and bracing for March where blooms start to pop daily. We thrive to bring you the freshest blooms and the longest vase life. In doing so, we implement certain harvest practices to help with just that. Did you know there are several spring blooms that are harvested and placed in “dry storage”? This method is where the bloom is harvested in a tight bud stage and not allowed to completely color or open in the field. The blooms are then stored in a cooler between 33 and 40 degrees for up to two weeks without water. That’s right, no water! Once we are ready to create for our customers, we simply put a fresh cut on the stem and hydrate overnight. This process not only allows us to harvest at the most optimal time but it also allows us to extend our daffodil and tulip season over the course of several months rather than all at once.