Consisting of five females spanning three generations, the Stevenson family lives in Fairview Alpha, Louisiana, on their 50-acre family farm. The farm grows a variety of fruit: citrus, muscadine, grapes, figs, pears, apples, and persimmons.They also grow a variety of ornamental flowers and plants.In addition, there is also cows, goats, and chickens. All the produce is grown organically. Recently, the farm expanded to include beekeeping. The entire family are crafters, with individual interests ranging from soap making, needlework, crocheting, sewing, canning, sculpting, basket weaving, and photography.
In an essay in the 2011 Kauffman Thoughtbook published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Nicholas M. Donofrio, Retired Executive Vice President of Innovation and Technology at IBM wrote a thought-provoking article titled “Innovation that Matters”. With the benefit of forty-four years at IBM, he points out that, “The innovation that matters now – the innovation that we’re all waiting for, even if we don’t know it – is the one that unlocks the hidden value that exists at the intersection of deep knowledge of a problem and intimate knowledge of a market, combined with your knowledge, your technology, and your capability…whoever you are, whatever you can do, whatever you bring to the table.” He suggests that we start not with the solution and what we want to accomplish, but with the problem and what needs to change, and then start thinking about how to change it.
This is exactly where the Stevensons family found themselves in 2003 when granddaughter Gabriel was diagnosed with leukemia. She was only eight years old and because her immune system was practically zero they had to eliminate germs from the house which led to making all natural cleaning supplies.
Chemotherapy dried out Gabriel’s skin so her mother, Rachael, started to make goat milk soap because it added natural moisture and was free of the harsh chemicals found in commercial products. This eventually developed into a small business called Southern Lane Soaps. These products can be found at the Campti Historic Museum and will soon be available through the Red River Farm Fresh virtual marketplace.
In 2015, Rachel ventured into beekeeping with one hive. It was a natural fit with the orchard. She collected 105 pounds of honey and totally sold out. “I plan to add at least 5 more hives in 2016 because the additional income comes in handy and it is not that much more work,” she said.
If you are looking to go from a hobby to a business, there is technical and financial resources to help you get there. Join us on Monday, November 16, 2015, at The Abundant Life Church, 618 Ben Drive, Natchitoches, LA, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., to learn more about USDA programs focused on traditionally underserved groups: beginning farmers and ranchers, veterans, women, minority groups, and specialty crop producers. For more information, you can contact Donna Isaacs at Campti Field of Dreams, 318-332-7791 or USDA Natchitoches, 6949 Louisiana Highway 1 Bypass, Natchitoches, LA, 71457, 318-357-8366.