By Carol Mowdy Bond
On the surface, the 2.5 acres that make up K & A Farms might not seem like very much land. But Tammy and Jim Newton are reinventing their land, and creating their own style of farming practices and lifestyle in the process. Their K & A Farms is a small, family farm specializing in produce, duck eggs, and natural products.
The Newtons live in the Piedmont area. And Jim is the field operations manager for the 7-Eleven bakery. Tammy, an Oklahoman with a sociology degree from Southern Nazarene University, spent time in the career world. But now she’s found her happy place as a full-time mom of two teenagers, and a hobby farmer.
Tammy said, “We bought this land in 2014 because we wanted a more rural space where we could raise a larger garden, raise and keep small animals, and do a little homesteading.”
“I like wild crafting,” Tammy said, who likes to use wild herbs, and anything she finds growing naturally. “Wild crafting means taking things in nature and doing something with them. It means making something useful with something you find growing naturally. So we forage for things. We do a lot with dandelions, because dandelion flowers are an anti-inflammatory. So we use them to make lotions, salves, and other things. And they’re edible. We make dandelion jelly. The greens can be used in salads, and other ways you use any greens.”
“We also use lamb’s quarter leaves, which are a wild edible,” said Tammy. “They’re more nutritional than spinach. For example, I use them in omelets and salads. I love the foraging for things that grow wild and are free of cost. I even make redbud jelly, and black locust tree jelly.”
Looking back, Tammy said she’s always been fascinated with plants, partly because of her grandmother. “My grandmother was a cotton picker,” said Tammy. “And she was an organic gardener before it was a thing. She sold produce off her front porch for many years. She was the original pioneer. She always had a ginormous garden, and she canned all the time. Now I’m growing a garden and canning.”
The Newtons want healthy and non-toxic food. And Tammy explains how spraying with chemicals changes the nutritional content of plants. So, they’ve learned how to create organic sprays that take care of issues like pesky bugs that eat garden plants. And they maintain plants that naturally keep bugs away.
“We had a family member with a scalp issue,” Tammy said. “So, I tried everything, and nothing worked. I ended up making an herbal shampoo. It knocked out the scalp issue.”
At their K & A Farms, the Newtons raise chickens and ducks. “We started with ducks because they keep laying eggs through the winter,” said Tammy. “And chickens sometimes don’t. Also, duck eggs are great for baking. Their eggs intensify the flavor of the baked good, and make the baked good rise higher and be lighter.”
“We’ve been surprised at how each individual chicken and duck has its own personality,” said Tammy. “For both our chickens and ducks, we have breeds that can handle cold and hot weather. For winter, we have houses for them. And we use straw a certain way to keep them warm. So, we don’t have to heat their houses. We’ve never had any succumb to frost bite or other winter issues. But we do give them extra food when it’s cold. Ducks are so insulated. They’ll be swimming outside in winter and have icicles hanging off their feathers. They enjoy the cold water.”
“I grow herbs for our ducks and chickens,” said Tammy. “Herbs are good for their immune systems and health. Our eggs are only as healthy as they are. So, they eat half of our herbs, and our family eats the other half.”
Tammy also grows the toothache plant. And their family is finding great success using the plant for toothaches. She also uses the marshmallow herb, and she recently taught a children’s class on how to make real marshmallows using the actual herb. “The root is used to make marshmallows,” Tammy said. “The ancients used it because it’s highly medicinal.”
Besides producing duck and chicken eggs, K & A Farms has other claims to fame including culinary and medicinal herbs, and natural products such as lotion bars, shampoo, deodorant, lip balm, salves, and sugar scrubs. And their kitchen is abuzz when they’re making jellies, butters, and baked goods including bread. “We grow 26 varieties of peppers and 40 varieties of tomatoes for the salsa we make,” said Tammy. “We grow what we need to make huckleberry pie, jellies, pickles, and herbal vinegars.”
As well, the family grows garden plants from seed, to sell in the spring. “We sold a ton of starter plants this year,” said Tammy.
Tammy is also a crafter, and she makes flax seed pillows. When heated, they’re great for achy joints, sore muscles, or to place under the covers to keep your feet warm at night. “Flax seeds hold heat better than other natural substances,” said Tammy. “I can’t make enough of them.”
The Newtons’ goals include a greenhouse for year-round growing, adding more fruit production, and working toward greater sustainability. Tammy also wants her manufacturing license.
“Jim and I both come from a long line of traditional farmers and backyard gardeners,” said Tammy. “We want to pass along those skills and that mindset to our kids. The ‘K & A’ part of our farm’s name is because our kids’ names start with those letters. We want to continue some of those family traditions, and teach them how to be capable and healthy. We soon discovered that we really love talking about those things with other people too, and bringing them along the journey with us. We never stop learning, and we love being part of a community that helps each other.”
“I like the simplicity of farm life,” Tammy said. “And I also like the connectedness to the land, to each other, and to our heritage, as well as providing healthy and healing foods and lifestyle. We have feelings of accomplishment when creating and providing for ourselves. There are some things we purposely choose to do in an old-fashioned manner.”
The Newtons sell items through the Piedmont Farmer’s Market, vendor events, word of mouth, Conscious Community Co-op located at 2900 E. Waterloo Road in Edmond, and through their Facebook page K & A Farms.