The Stone Hollow Farmstead pop-up shop is in a relatively hidden location — so hidden, in fact, that it’s easy for Birmingham residents to miss it when driving down Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. But in its tiny spot between two business firms, the locally owned farmstead is bringing a taste of hand-crafted, Southern-style delicacies to the busy business district of downtown Birmingham.
The pop-up shop, which offers tastings of homemade goat cheeses, pickled vegetables and fruit preserves, is run by CJ Adams, who has been a friend of Stone Hollow owner Deborah Stone and her family for around 20 years.
“The idea for a pop-up started when we were talking about how there isn’t a big market for retail shops in downtown Birmingham,” Adams says. “It’s mostly an area for business. So we were thinking that it would be a great opportunity to bring some attention to the company, since there isn’t a lot of competition.”
Stone Hollow Farmstead was started in 1999 by Deborah Stone when she was offered a deal to sell her day spa. After the deal was finalized, Stone and her husband decided to buy the farm property in Harpersville, Alabama. “Deborah grew up on a farm, so she’s always had that in her blood. So when the opportunity came to buy her own farm she jumped on it.”
Though the farm was first opened 15 years ago, Stone and her business associates only started making goat cheese five years ago. “It all started when Deborah got five goats on the farm. She started to make cheese out of their milk and began distributing it to her friends and family. Now there are 200 goats on the farm and we distribute cheese to various Birmingham restaurants and grocery stores,” says Adams.
Around the size of a personal bathroom, the pop-up shop is filled with a variety of different flavors for every customer. “We have flavors of preserves that range from pumpkin butter to jalapeno honey. There’s a flavor for everyone here.”
Adams says that their most popular products in the shop are a special flavor of preserve and their pickled okra. “Our ‘fairytale plum with whiskey and vanilla’ preserve is by far my personal favorite and our best seller. Once people taste it they’re usually blown away. And the okra is just a traditional Southern staple that people really enjoy.”
Flavors in Stone Hollow’s goat cheese include herbs du Provence and peppercorn with chive, but customers looking to buy their personal share of goat cheese at the store are out of luck. “The only thing we don’t sell in the shop is our goat cheese,” Adams admits with a smile. “Whenever we tell people that they get so upset.”
Adams adds, however, that the hope for Stone Hollow’s goat cheese should still hold strong. “Even though we don’t sell any of our cheeses at the pop-up shop, people can still purchase our cheeses at our restaurant out in Crestline, The Pantry.”
Adams says that the location of the pop-up shop may seem easy to miss, but that is far from the truth. “We have quite a few people stop by on their lunch break to see what we’re all about. It’s been quite an experience seeing how many people respond to us being down here.”
Adams believes part of the reason people are flocking to the downtown venue is because of Stone Hollow’s reputation for high-quality hand-crafted products. “Everything we offer is handmade. Even our pickled vegetables are pickled in our own champagne vinaigrette. They [the people at Stone Hollow] put so much thought and care into everything we give to our customers.”
The downtown location isn’t the only project Stone Hollow has brewing. In March the farmstead will start its spring season filled with various packages for customers. “We’re going to have a package called ‘Farmer for a day’ for kids,” Adams says. “The package includes letting the kids pick out eggs, herd and milk the goats, learn how to make cheese and then have a picnic with the items they’ve acquired over the day. The kids really enjoy it because they get to spend time with the animals and learn about what real farmers do all day.”
The farm is also offering classes for adults. “We know the parents love to have fun as much as the kids,” Adams says. “The adult classes include how to make cheese, pickle vegetables and other various items. It’s something people really enjoy, and it shows them how dedicated we are to making artisanal products.”
The future of Stone Hollow’s downtown location is unknown, but Adams has a feeling their stay might be prolonged. “The original plan was to just be here during the holiday season, but with our business perking up in this area there might be a chance we’ll find a permanent location here.”
The Stone Hollow Farmstead downtown location is located at 310 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd North across from the YMCA. For more information regarding Stone Hollow, visit their website or call (1-800) 285-8950. Tours for the Harpersville farm will start back in March 2015.