FAIRVIEW, Ala. – Whitney Haynes is a Fairview High School teacher, mother of six, cross-country coach and local business owner. She and her husband Ben Haynes, along with his parents Darrel and Lydia Haynes, and brother Bart Haynes own Haynes Farms in Fairview.
Whitney Haynes said she and her husband saw the need to provide local meat when the demand rose in 2019, and they have been actively pursuing meeting the needs of local families since.
“One of my goals of the market was to offer local farmers and vendors a place to share/sell their products,” Haynes said. “We carry local eggs, honey, produce, sourdough starter, etc. Something we also do is host the annual sunflower field for the community each year. The sunflowers on Highway 69 are in full bloom by the weekend. There’s an antique tractor for pictures! People can take photos, pick them— all free of charge. They last about two weeks.”
She said they wanted to provide local, fresh options for meat, vegetables and more.
“For years we have sold beef shares to family and friends. Around 2019-2020, the demand for locally grown beef grew. We started selling more shares, as well as individual cuts of meat. As our product grew in popularity, we realized we needed somewhere besides our home to keep and sell our product,” she said. “As our family continued to grow, we knew in order for our children to one day return to the farm (if that was their choice), we would need to create other opportunities for them to be involved. We decided to renovate an existing storage building on some of our farm property to open our farm store, Haynes Farms Local Market, in 2021. Our oldest son Jack began the 4-H Pig Squeal project around 2018. This helped us begin selling pork shares and pork products to the public. Our children have continued to participate in the Pig Squeal project as well as investing their money in more pigs.”
Haynes said their farm is their livelihood.
“I teach in a public school, but our entire lives revolve around the farm,” she said. “It is truly a 24/7, 365-day job.”
When thinking back over the time since opening and operating their business, she said, many moments of struggle and triumph come to mind.
“I’m not sure that I have a favorite memory, but watching our kids grow to become capable, confident and independent is one of my favorite things about the farm,” Haynes said. “There are days I watch them do jobs and I think, ‘I know there are a lot of adults that couldn’t do that.’ Even if they choose not to return to the farm one day, I know they are learning skills and developing character traits that will go with them for the rest of their lives.”
Haynes said it’s not a specific memory, but she always loves it when they begin checking on mama cows in the wintertime.
“That usually means late-night checks before bedtime,” she said. “It’s usually after supper and kids already have on their pajamas. We will pile in the truck or trolley and check the mama cows for any potential calves or problems for the night. Sometimes it leads to an eventful bedtime.”
The Haynes children – Jack (15), Lola (12), Charlie (10), Caroline (6), Pruett (3) and Rueben (1) – have helped make the farm what it is today.
“There are a lot of days and weeks when we simply could not accomplish everything if it were not for the help of our kids,” Haynes said. “The older kids have really grown into their roles at the farm, whether it is working in the hayfield, planting, delivering meat, stocking inventory or running the market (or helping around the house while the rest of us accomplish farm duties). Everyone has jobs they enjoy more than others, so we try to be intentional where and how we ask for everyone’s help. We really function as a team and that is what I love most about being a farm family. It’s fun to hear them talk about things from a ‘farmer’s’ perspective – ‘We really needed this rain,’ ‘I hope these storms don’t do too much damage,’ etc. They are very aware of things around them and how they might positively or negatively affect the farm.”
When it comes to the community, Haynes said she enjoys watching other local families venture to their business.
“One of my favorite things I get to do because of our meat business is watch families and our community grow,” she said. “ I love meeting the people that buy our meat and hearing their stories -watching their children grow, learning their recipes, etc. It is amazing how many people are new to our area. I absolutely love knowing that we are part of the entire process. We watch the calves born on the farm. We are caretakers through the entire process. Knowing that people will take our products and nourish their families is such a blessing. I love the thought of people sitting down together at the table and we are a small part of that. We get to be a part of feeding the world, and with God’s help, we get to do that with our own hands and feet every day. Isn’t that neat!”
She commented on how buying fresh/local can benefit the community.
“When you buy fresh/local, you are helping so many people in your own community,” Haynes said. “We use a local processor, Southern Integrity, which employs local families. We buy feed from J&R Feed, another local business. We use local parts and service businesses. We support our local schools and food pantries through donations. And the people that purchase our products are part of all of that. They are supporting schools; they are supporting other local businesses. Being part of that local community/network is very special.”
Ben Haynes said they use the date of 1890 as the “beginning” of Haynes Farms, as that date is the earliest record they have found of land having been owned by ancestors.
“Our great-great-great grandfather Jasper Philpot, of the Haynes family, although it is possible that our heritage in Fairview goes back even further, is someone we were able to record,” he said. “Jasper was the father-in-law of Joshua Robertis ‘Bo’ Haynes, whose father, William Carter Haynes had immigrated to Alabama shortly after the Civil War, fist living in Remlap in Blount County before moving north and winding up in Fairview, which at the time was still Blount County.
“The first large steps into modernity were taken by Howard Eugene ‘Bud’ Haynes after he purchased the farm from his siblings in about 1950. Bud continued to work as a carpenter during the winters as his father and grandfather had done, but grew the farm enterprises by adding, or at least trying, several new ventures. Sweet potatoes, as well as contract grown chickens and turkeys were some that didn’t last very long, but the commercial hay business played a huge role in the farm from the early 1950s through the early 70s. Hay was sold or baled on a custom basis for dozens of small dairies all over four-five counties. This also necessitated the expansion of the equipment fleet to include more tractors, trucks and hay balers, mowers and conditioners.”
Haynes Farms Local Market is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. It is located at 150 County Road 1654 Cullman, AL 35058. www.haynesfarmsllc.com
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