By AMY HENDERSON, The Cullman Times
CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Heritage Hills Farmstead’s Karl and Karli Amonite began growing their own meat and eggs on Karli’s family farm years ago as a way of providing their small family with better quality food. Then their organically-grown produce operation began to grow, well, organically.
Karl, who studied exercise science/kinesiology in college, and Karli, a nutritionist, knew the importance of eating healthy foods, especially because Karli has an autoimmune disease. “We know the value of consuming the highest quality, nutrient dense food possible,” said Karl. “We’ve kind of figured out what’s best for our bodies.”
But they had a hard time finding what they were looking for. “We took matters into our own hands,” he said. “We set out on this adventure, just doing it ourselves.”
Karl came from an agricultural community but had no actual farm experience, but Karli grew up on her family’s farm in Northwest Cullman County and that’s where they began their operations.
After several years, and multiple inquiries from friends and neighbors, the Amonite’s began marketing their produce — eggs, chickens, turkey, hogs and beef — to the public in 2017.
They’re now shipping produce across the country, and delivering to homes in North Alabama, along with some in Tennessee.
“It started kind of organically happening,” said Karl.
The couple shuns the term “organic” when it comes to labeling their produce, noting that under the official USDA designation, some additives that meet USDA standards can be used.
“We rose above the label ‘organic.’ We feel its a term that’s been overused,” said Karl. “We like to think of ourselves as beyond organic. In our sense, it means the original state without anything added to it.”
At Heritage Hills Farmstead, the laying chickens have free-run of the farm; the cows graze on hundreds of acres of pasture year-round and the hogs forage in the woods for their food.
“We provide great habitats for species of all kinds,” said Karl. The result, he said, are happy animals. “We want to make to make sure our animals are humanely raised, so they’re not stressed.
“We feel like overfeeding is a huge problem – for humans and for farms,” he added. “Our practices are more slow growing, it’s a lengthier process. We feel there’s more of a health benefit to our products.”
While the chicken and cattle are grain-free, the Amonites do provide supplemental grain to the hogs to help them through the winter, but stay away from soy and corn. “The hogs right now are in acorn and hickory and walnut heaven,” said Karl.
He said he and his family, which includes 4-year-old Klaire and 8-month-old Kate, love the animals and are grateful to them. Knowing how the animals were raised, what they ate and that they were happy animals also makes the Amonites and their customers feel better about what they’re consuming. “We say to them, ‘thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice for us, so we can eat healthy,’”