Hoosier farmer promotes healthy harvests, healthy souls
J.L. Hawkins Family Farm: Gobble 'til you wobble with sustainable farming.
Monday, November 14, 2011 - 23:12
Photo courtesy Jeff Hawkins
Drive down Hawkins Lane just a little east of North Manchester, Ind., and you'll come to a pretty little farm that offers big dreams and healthy harvests. Its smiling, soft-spoken farmer, Jeff Hawkins, is busy lining up orders for the free-range turkeys he's raised on this eco-conscious land. Aside from raising turkeys, he also raises other farm animals and crops free of synthetic hormones or chemical fertilizers.
J.L. Hawkins Family Farm is a community supported agriculture (CSA) venture, offering shares of the natural farm harvest to customers in northeast Indiana. Customers can work on the farm, watching and helping the food they've purchased grow.
A full harvest share for 2011 included a weekly allotment of vegetables from mid-May to late September (20 weeks), 20 pastured meat chickens, a fresh Thanksgiving turkey, a half grass-fed hog and a quarter grass-finished beef.
More than a farmer
But Jeff Hawkins isn't satisfied with being just a farmer who feeds people physically. He also longs to feed folks spiritually. A former Lutheran minister, he has a passion for reaching his community through good food and fellowship through his HOPE CSA program that helps ministers connect working with nature with caring for their spiritual flock.
The Hawkins family also opens up their yard to sell artisan pizzas baked in their own brick oven between the months of May and September. Customers who eat at the farm bring their own blankets, lawn chairs, table service and beverages.
Every September, J.L. Hawkins Family Farm has a harvest dinner called "Between Heaven and Earth." All proceeds benefit HOPE CSA. All the food served is grown or raised locally or on the farm and prepared by a local chef. The lawn tables are covered in white table cloths and beautiful china. Menus have included sautéed fresh greens, late-season red raspberry cobbler and raw-milk cheese. As the sun sets, diners sip on a variety of local beers that are paired with each serving of the five-course meal.
There's still time to get a turkey for your Thanksgiving table, but they sell out fast. If you don't get one this year, be sure to check out the website and begin planning next year's feasts and adventures with J.L. Hawkins Family Farm.