aking a trip to Mooresville is like stepping back in time. An old clapboard church, antebellum homes, and white picket fences seem to belong more in a Norman Rockwell painting than in a town neighboring the Rocket City. And in the heart of this historic village are residents Natasha and Laurence McCrary, practicing an age-old way of life with the future in mind. Natasha and Laurence both had careers in the corporate world, but 18 months ago, Natasha was ready for a change. “I had done computer programming, pharmaceutical sales, worked for a nonprofit, and been a stay-at-home mom, but with my kids in school I wanted to do something that I could take ownership in and enjoy,” she says. The McCrarys were already living in Laurence’s family home a short walk from an old horse pasture, and Natasha decided it was time to make it an active farm. So the couple cultivated the land, built a barn and some fencing, and a farm was born. They named it 1818 Farms for the year Mooresville was founded. “We really wanted to teach our kids about preservation,” says Natasha, whose children are the seventh generation to grow up in the family’s 1826, Federal-style house. “There’s definitely been a generation gap in farming. In the 1970s, people said they didn’t want to do it anymore, and they started going to the grocery store for their food, but you forget where it all comes from. Each morning when we’re eating eggs, I tell my kids ‘look how hard this hen worked for us.’”
Facing page: Natasha and Laurence McCrary pose “American Gothic” style at 1818 Farms, their working farm in Mooresville, Alabama. The Federal-style house, above, was built in 1826.
The family of five is now a family of six dozen. The McCrary household includes a pot-bellied pig named Cupcake, barn cats Trouble and Hazel, two Great Pyrenees, a handful of goats and baby doll sheep, 28 baby chicks, and a few dozen hens, each affectionately named. (One of the hens is called Elton John because of her flamboyant feathers).
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Annual home and garden issue