It’s one of our favorite times of the season, when a farmer from Chilton County, the “peach capital” of Alabama, drives upstate with a truckload of peaches and sets up shop in the town square. As soon as we see him, we make a mad dash for his truck to nab a basket of these beauties, because we now know they’ll be gone quick!
What’s summer in the country without a good ole fashioned swimming hole? Our neighbor Megan, who grew up around here and knows these woods like the back of her hand, has been telling us about a secret swimming hole she found while wading the Tallaseehatchee, which borders the back of the property. A couple of weeks ago she took us there and, despite the chilly, spring-fed water, we all dove right in — dogs included!
In 2009, our family embarked on a little adventure when we purchased 34 acres in rural Alabama to provide an escape from the pressures of work and city living as well as a retirement home for our horses. Since then, we’ve simply referred to it as “the farm” or jokingly “Our Green Acres” because we had absolutely no idea what we were doing – but knew we had to do it anyway.
We also struggled with what to name the place and thought on that for a long time. But nothing ever felt right or true. So we waited, figuring the land would eventually tell us. And on a beautiful but bittersweet day last spring it did, just after losing our beloved horse Merlin. Drawing from the land’s rich heritage and celebrating the memory of this incredible horse, we settled on the old Creek Indian word for horse – “Cerakko.” Horse farm…Merlin’s farm. The answer was right in front of us the entire time.
But beyond just naming the farm, we wanted to do something bigger. Something to say thank you to people we’ve met along our journey…friends who embraced these “city folk” and showed them the way. We wanted to pay tribute to the country sages, farmers, artists and tradesmen and use Cerakko Farm as a small gesture for doing so – by creating a small farm lifestyle brand that showcases the beauty of honest living, hard work and nature’s splendor. No matter where we all are…on airplanes, in big cities, back woods, or just sitting on the porch with folks we love…these days so many of us crave authentic experiences and things that remind us of our childhood, carefree days and simple living.
So welcome to The Cerakko Farm Project. We hope you’ll visit our site from time to time and see what custom products we’ll be featuring. And if you’re so inclined, please support our family of artists by purchasing something for yourself, your own family or a friend. Sales proceeds benefit community non-profits like The Red Barn Foundation in Leeds, Ala., which gives safe haven to rescue horses and provides equine therapy to disadvantaged or disabled children.
While we have day jobs just like you, we’ll try to keep the Mercantile stocked with interesting gifts for you to enjoy and share from established and emerging artists throughout the South. We plan to restock every quarter and eventually more often in the future. Availability will sometimes depend on the artists and their ability to offer more products (most of them have day jobs, too), so please be patient if we’re ever sold out.
And speaking of friends, this project would not be possible were it not for the faith and enthusiasm of those who believed in the vision and pushed us forward. Our most special thanks to Betsy Burts who drew the farm logo featuring Merlin, grazing peacefully on green acres during his retirement years. To Jessica Karp – she quickly grasped the concept and painstakingly built the website and general store. And to all the artists who jumped on board to create beautiful, limited edition products for the launch. We hope you’ll enjoy browsing their works and learning more about them and their passions.
Here’s to your own passions, happy things and joyful living!
Hoofnote: We decided to officially launch this venture on the 80th birthday of Sarah McKneally. Sarah owns Linden Hill Farm in Hartwell, Ga., and was Merlin’s caretaker for many years…long before he had a farm of his own. Happy Birthday, Sarah! We love you.