Connecting with The Earth on Local Working Farms

Flowers, Bees, Photography and More

Being raised in Franklin or living in the south for any duration of time, one thing is for certain, there is no shortage of farms. Spoiled by their beauty and abundance, we can often become disenchanted by them. Gone are the days of farms fitting the stereotype from picture books. Today’s modern farms are unique, fun and providing for us in ways that meet modern needs. Franklin residents are lucky to have these
four exciting farms close enough to visit and have access to their products.

Owning and running a flower farm sounds like a wonderful dream come true. And it is for Natasha McCrary but it’s also an impressive amount of dedication and hard work. Located in Mooresville, AL less than 100 miles from Franklin is 1818 Farms, a true working farm. Nothing is mechanized, everything is hand cut. The name is a nod to year of incorporation for Mooresville. Natasha’s children will be the fifth generation raised in their home having been there since 2005.

Like most businesses, COVID changed the face of what normal looked like. Gone were the days of school trips, bi-monthly open farm events and workshops. The Farm instead looked towards their YouTube channel as a portal for providing the education portion of their workshops -  how to prepare a vase, prepping flower beds, how to properly cut flowers. Looking towards the fall, evening adult workshops will be back focusing on dried flowers. Natasha is adamant that anything that grows at 1818 Farms also dries well. 1818 Farms focuses on dried wreaths and dried bouquets in the winter as a way to enjoy as many of their flowers as possible.

In her workshops, Natasha likes to focus on education. The bouquet workshop not only will you get step by step instruction, but you’ll go out into the field. You’ll learn how to correctly cut flowers and the elements of a bouquet. In an environment where she is planning months out, flowers for the fall will be planted in April, and things are constantly changing and challenging, So its not surprising Natasha will tell you, “it’s in my blood.” Botany is a love she inherited from her father.

Over the next year, Natasha is hopeful that 1818 Farms will be able to have open farm days again. One thing you will probably never see is the entire farm in full color bloom. A successful farm will be in various stages throughout the year and will cut before the full bloom in order for the flower to bloom in a vase. 

Kimberly Cranfield’s entry into bee keeping is the definition of stumbling upon something. She tagged along with her carpenter friend and coworker, Steve Ailey to a seminar on bee keeping in Missouri given by Dr. Leo Sharashkin.

Having grown up in Williamson Country, Kimberly has been on Lark Star Farms, lovingly named for her horse, for almost 20 years. An animator by trade, the hives in her bee village are impeccably painted, almost stealing the buzz from the bees. Kimberly’s hives are all natural. Aside from the lack of chemicals, she won’t give them sugar water. And she’s as hands off as possible for the simple reason that it’s been incredibly successful. She had posed a gentle and thoughtful question to herself, “What would happen if I let them be bees?”

Near the bee village is a buckwheat field and its close enough to a grove of persimmon both of which can be determined in the honey but are not the sole source the bees seek out. When the bees are actively producing, it can take seven days to fill a frame with combs. Each hive has its own personality, some more relaxed, and others Kimberly would just as well leave well enough alone because the bees are happier that way.

Steve, along with carpenter apprentice Kimberly, builds the horizontal hives. In the hives there are large wooden frames strung with wire for the bees to build their combs and Kimberly builds beautiful ones. A building on the back of Lark Star​​​​​​​ Farms has by default become a carpentry shop for the hives. The Layens hives hold more frames than the traditional vertical hive and can be preferred by bee keepers who don’t want to move the cumbersome vertical hives. Just off of Hwy 96, Lark Star​​​​​​​ Farms is a great little secret farm home to two beautiful dogs, a bee village and in the future, a few new horses.

South 40 Farms is not your every day, stereotypical farm. It’s a 40-acre former vegetable and tobacco farm turned amazing backdrop. Located at 1764 Lewisburg Pike in Franklin, it’s a local photographer's best kept secret. Ann Thoni happily manages the family business along with her husband, Jeff.

The farm has been in Jeff’s family for over 50 years. His grandparents farmed it as a working farm when they first purchased it. Ann and Jeff moved to the property in 1984 and raised their children on the land. It wasn’t until artistic inspiration struck Ann, a professional photographer, that South 40 Farm became what it is today.

In February 2019, South 40 became a space “strictly for creatives.” Everyone from those just starting out, amateur photographers, professional photographers, cinematographers, artists and producers seek out South 40 Farms for their amazing creative space and backdrop. And there are many, many repeat customers. It’s available for anyone from the hobbyist to the professional photographer. And some big names have taken notice including country singer Miranda Lambert and Jordan Davis who have both shot videos on the farm and production company Barstool Productions has recently booked the space for filming. You can book directly through their website.

Not having initially set out to use the land in this fashion, Ann really enjoys being able to share her love of photography with other photographers by having a place for her peers and other artists to go. It also allows her work life balance to be ideal. Not only do Ann and Jeff’s daughter, Dawn, live on the property but so does her grandson and soon-to-be-born granddaughter.

A really lucky visit to South 40 Farms will see Ann around property with her grandson, sharing her experiences with those using the space. Being a professional photographer, Ann will on occasion coach those interested or lend her creative eye. A very humble Ann, can guide on lighting, the property, share knowledge and experience. Having the keen eye she does, Ann plants sunflowers each year for clients to enjoy.

Future plans will see their son, Bobby, join the family on South 40 Farms as it continues to be the perfect scene-creating venue.

Often people’s true callings are found when they aren’t looking or by fate. That’s how Mason Grove Farm came to fruition, or as co-owner Angie Lentz likes to say, she and her husband Scott became “accidental entrepreneurs” by focusing on and following their ministry. A woman blazing her own trails and full of life, Angie believes nothing is really an accident and credits her loving husband Scott for being “the string to my kite. We’re always dreaming together.”

In the summer of 2020, it was time for a change. Always mission and music minded, Angie tried to make her motivation to follow the question she asks everyone else; “what lights you up?” Having always homeschooled their three children, the Lentz's are experts at creating spaces and items specifically tailored to wants and needs. It was time to create their own company, “make a difference in the industry,” stand behind a brand that is mission minded, music minded and home minded. Angie wanted to be able to provide “all the pretty things” but cleanly and with integrity and purpose.

Mason Grove focuses on family, whether that be allowing more time with family for employees or having an environment where employees feel like family. Just outside of Columbia, Angie and Scott want Mason Grove to be a place where people come for community where everyone has a seat at the table and people come to encounter the things that matter and feel welcome. Their vision reaches far beyond what Mason Grove is today and will extend to large events and family focused gatherings.

A lifestyle brand that has a nostalgic and apothecary feel, the clean products focus on skin and the new baby line, natural items for your puppy and home décor. Very much a farm to table quality feel, Mason Grove wants to build a legacy. Focusing on heritage has inspired the spirit of the products and their spa-like effect. From beautiful organic reusable facial pads to spearmint lip balm, you will be pampered. The “farm to home” southern mercantile can be found at 

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