From backyard garden in our local community to a small business, Amy Williams is keeping the gardening tradition alive in the family with Underhill Urban Farm Co, a non-GMO, organically grown farm and garden that uses heirloom seeds, that are all locally grown.
Her father, an organic farmer, taught her the ins and outs of farming, while her mother taught her how to can different items, like pickles, jams, and jellies. Growing up with fruits and veggies in the backyard and on the table was something Williams was used to. So, it was natural that she’d have a garden of her own and use it to teach her children as well.
“We kind of grew up like that. It was a natural thing for me to do it, and for the kids to be a part of it,” said Williams.
Around a year and a half ago the thought of using the garden as a business sprung up, then everything fell into place and the business was born. Underhill Urban Farm Co is first and foremost a family thing. Williams grows in her local garden but uses her father’s garden as well. Williams is also always accompanied in the kitchen by family who help develop new recipes, as with the grapefruit Jalapenos jelly that sold out first during their last farmers market appearance.
In all it’s her parents, her husband, and her five children that take on the responsibility that come with the garden and business.
“I like it being small, I like it being just a family thing. There’s something about that that makes it really special to us, and I don’t want it to get to a point that it loses what it is, because this is our passion and being able to do that with my kids, that’s really special to me,” said Williams.
With a garden to upkeep, and business to run, Williams also homeschools. She says it’s never easy to find the perfect balance, especially with five kids, but gardening and the creation of Underhill has provided amazing learning opportunities for the kids.
“There’s so many different aspects of [gardening], but also with the business side. They’re kind of seeing how to run a business; what you need to do to run a business. It’s been a really good learning experience for them,” said Williams.
A challenge Underhill had to face recently was the weather this winter. With fall being almost nonexistent, to an unexpected winter, it was tough to keep the garden in good shape. Luckily, with the help of the whole family, they made it through the freezes, whereas other farms weren’t so fortunate.
During the spring and summer months the only worry is garden pests.
“But we’ve gotten to where we are able to do companion planting. So, there are certain herbs that will repel certain pests, which makes it easier because we don’t use pesticides,” said Williams.
Except for a few months ago when Williams couldn’t figure out what was getting in her garden. She’d even put a new fence up. Turns out, they were having a Peter Rabbit situation of their own. Williams soon noticed the fault lay with her.
“Then I realized I had bought rabbit fencing and I had put it upside down. The big holes were supposed to be at the top and I had put them on the bottom,” said Williams. The rabbit was able to hop right through the fence with no problem.
Beginning this month, they will be close to home at Little White Oak Night Market. For Williams the best part of joining a Farmers Market is the encouragement given by other vendors. There’s no competition—everyone’s there for one another hoping they succeed as well.
Look out for Underhill at the market with their variety of squash, zucchini, melons, luffa gourd, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, asparagus, citrus, and blackberries! You can be kept up to date on which markets they will be at on their Facebook page at Underhill Urban Farm Co and on Instagram @underhillurbanfarmco.