“This has to be one of the prettiest farms in Alabama,” was a comment made by several friends, family and visitors over the years. The pre-1955 history of MMF is similar to that of many farms throughout the deep South – lots of cotton raised over a couple of centuries resulting in worn out soil. It was acquired that year by the Suttle family (John Frank, Auburn graduate, WWII vet, and engineer by trade, Mary Francis, twins Lloyd and Allan born in 1947, and myself – Jim – born in 1950). We spent the first two summers of ’55 and ’56 living in the first known “motor home” – an old school bus, gutted and accommodated with bunk beds, a kitchen table, gas stove, and sink with running water – doing our best to make the hundred-plus year old farmhouse livable before moving in that fall at which time I began the first grade. I’ll never forget that the old bus was painted “army green,” and that the other plumbing facilities, to my great chagrin, were “outside,” as in outhouse. “Pop,” as our dad was fondly known by friends and family alike, was a very active owner over his half-century on the farm. While he taught engineering courses for twenty to twenty-five hours a week at the University of Montevallo, he spent at least an equal amount of time manicuring his beloved MMF, which he actively continued until a stroke on his eighty-seventh birthday slowed him. I will never forget a family vacation in Montana some years ago when I was awakened at three o’clock in the morning to the sound of laughter. Investigating, I discovered four next-generation cousins on the back deck in the hot tub telling Pop stories. He was an amazing person, who at the advice of his father, left the world a little better place than he had found it. I have long intended returning to the farm to retire and found myself doing so sooner than expected after Pop passed away in 2006, although retirement is not how most people would describe the past few years. Wanting to fully enjoy the pristine nature of Mountain Meadows and provide a comfortable environment for my now 96-year-old Mom, I soon concluded that sharing the experience with others by providing healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the surrounding community would be an ideal alternative . . . and here we are! Chemical free blueberries and blackberries are available between early June and early August, plus Christmas trees late in the year. So bring your kids or grandkids and pick your own delicious fruit, and then back in December to cut your own Christmas tree, on a beautiful, fun, family-friendly MMF. You’ll know they’re fresh!!
The nutrient values of fruits and vegetables have been measured since the 1920’s, and over the years they have declined by two thirds. This is the primary reason that I chose the natural practices used at MMF. “Chemical free” means that NO chemicals are used on or near any food bearing plants. Generally, no non-natural fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used. While this is very similar to “organic” practices, that process actually allows some chemical preservatives for shipping purposes. “Organic” requires three years of no chemicals while Mountain Meadows has used none within 50 feet of producing areas for at least 10 years and only a rare application of fertilizer for the 45 years prior to that. “Organic” requires certification, although largely it is based on self-audits, while chemical free does not. The benefits of chemical free production are the health benefits. Most of us are now aware of the concerns about the long-term harm that may well be caused by the chemicals in our food chain. Chemical use has almost certainly been the cause of our badly depleted soil. Healthy food, on the other hand, begins with healthy soil. Over time, and generally speaking the longer the better, the addition of well developed compost and other nutrient and mineral rich natural additives has been shown to dramatically improve soil health. MMF uses horse manure, composted with grass and leaves for a minimum of a year, cottonseed meal for blueberries, “Nature Safe” pelletized fertilizer and mineral rich “fish meal” for blackberries and vegetables; a vinegar-based spray for weed control (and a lot of bending and pulling); and an orange peel extract for insect control. So can you taste healthy? Our customers assure us that they can. One said that it’s the first time that she’s ever made a blueberry pie where she didn’t need to add sugar. So come try our delicious blueberries and blackberries this summer. You’ll taste the difference!