Deborah Stone and Alexandra Stone Flowers are the mother-daughter team behind Stone Hollow Farmstead — but they’re not your average farmers. Along with running this flourishing 80-acre farm in Harpersville, AL, Deborah and Alexandra also manage a flower shop, a CSA, a skincare line, a retail space at Pepper Place, and much more. They say it all works together to help promote wellness from the inside out. Get to know Deborah and Alexandra and find out why, for them, farm life is the best life.
Deborah, what inspired you to start Stone Hollow Farmstead?
Deborah: I had a day spa in Birmingham, and we sold it. Alex was riding horses, and I grew up on a farm, so it made sense to start over and go full circle. My grandparents also always farmed and gardened, so it was a family history. And then, I started learning how to make skincare. It took about three years, and we made a line of skincare called Botaniko. It was just for fun — an accident. I don’t think it was intentional to be a business.
Alexandra: This was her “retirement.” This was her time to play, her opportunity to hang out, be with the horses, and enjoy. But if she gets passionate about something, it evolves. It wasn’t really planned, but I think that’s a fun part of the story.
You bought your property in 1999 and were up and running by 2003. How did the farm evolve over the past 20 years to include all of the other aspects of Stone Hollow Farmstead?
Deborah: Our heart is local. We always wanted to share what we thought was beautiful about farms and farming with our community. We did the Pepper Place Farmers’ Market, and at some point (I think it was in 2011), we started offering a CSA.
Alexandra: I think something important to note is it takes a lot to make a farm run financially. There’s a lot of overhead, and everything is seasonal. We have crops like tomatoes and okra, but we look at our skincare as a crop, too. There are beautiful flowers and things for us to grow, pick, and sell at farmers’ markets in spring and summer. But throughout the year, we’re storing up and creating to carry us through the late fall and winter.
What’s something you wish more people understood about farming?
Alexandra: Everybody wants to be a backyard farmer because it’s sexy and has a lot of great Instagram moments. And it does have all of those things. I think that’s really special, and it’s something I love about what we do. It’s really beautiful, and you can tell a beautiful story. But I have so much respect for the agricultural community. It is hard labor, and I think it’s underappreciated. I think people know to value it because it’s their food, but I don’t think everyone realizes it’s very much a labor of love. We are probably not your average farm. We do a lot of things, and we’re not just in the field growing and harvesting. I would say it’s one of the hardest jobs for the farmers that are. It’s labor intensive. For as beautiful as it is, it is equally challenging.
Deborah: I think people do know how hard it is. I think that everybody would do it if it weren’t hard. People appreciate the opportunity to come to the farm and experience it. But there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. This year has had unbearable heat. And this was going to be our best year ever for blooms. We have over 10,000 dahlias in the ground. And the heat has completely shut down two fields. I guess Alex and I would both say that’s something we want people to know, but we don’t want to tell them because it’s too painful. Every year is challenging and fun all at the same time. And we cry and laugh all at the same time.
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a mother-daughter team?
Alexandra: I only see advantages.
Deborah: I don’t have any disadvantages.
Alexandra: The sweet thing is, I think that’s a genuine answer on both sides. My mom is my best friend, and she has always been my best friend. It’s been very special to see all the sacrifices made to help me grow into the woman I am. It has been really fun just to be adults together and still have that connection as a mother and daughter. To get to work together day in and day out as adults has been special for me.
Alex, why did you want to work with your mom in the farming business?
Alexandra: I went out to California, and my goal was to be a movie makeup artist. I had a great connection and got to see what that life would look like. I was out there for about two and a half years. While I was there, I was in school for product development. I wanted to make a name for myself and the industry and possibly own a cosmetic line. But the more I did makeovers, and the more I was in that world, I realized that wasn’t really the lifestyle I wanted. I learned that the art of making someone feel beautiful was more about the canvas.
I grew up with a mom who owned a spa, so I knew good skincare is really the foundation. This is your biggest organ, so you need to take care of it. Helping people create a beautiful canvas so they feel beautiful before makeup became more of my passion. Mom had come out with a few products and had all of this knowledge. And I had these new branding and product development tools, so it was a beautiful marriage that evolved on its own.
Deborah, what’s something you’ve learned from Alex?
Deborah: I’ve learned how to share in decision-making. For so long, I was with the spa, and I was an independent CEO. Learning how to share that position has been fun and enlightening.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Deborah: It’s very hard to leave the farm. Occasionally, we love to go to the mountains or the beach.
Alexandra: Family time is so important and such a big piece of our life. I love to be at the farm with my family. We like to picnic and drink wine and be together. We also love great food. We love Birmingham’s culinary atmosphere, and we’re so lucky to live in a city with such incredible chefs and makers.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Alexandra: We love Frank Stitt and anything he does — Bottega, Chez Fonfon. I think the place we probably frequent the most is Automatic. We love seafood, and I think Adam Evans is a wonderful chef. He really supports the local farming community.
Deborah: Bottega is probably our favorite, and Satterfield’s it’s close to our home.
Alex, what’s one of the best pieces of advice your mom has given you?
Alexandra: If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything at all. When you’re struggling with making a decision and going back and forth, you don’t have to be forced into a decision. You can take the time you need to figure it out.
Aside from faith, family, and friends, name three things you couldn’t live without.
Alexandra: My cast iron skillet, pot de crème, and Dolly Parton.
Deborah: Botaniko Firming Eye and Lip Cream, Excel spreadsheets, and my titanium floral sheers.
Favorite hidden gems:
Alexandra: Chelsea Antiques
Your go-to birthday gift to give:
Alexandra: Specialty wines
Deborah: Our handmade perfumes
Last book you read:
Alexandra: Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Deborah: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Last big vacation:
Deborah: The mountains in North Georgia
What’s on your bedside table?
Alexandra: A gigantic cup of water, Botaniko Firming Eye and Lip Cream and Vitamin E Facial Oil
Deborah: Farmstead Labs CBD
All photography courtesy of Stone Hollow Farmstead.
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