Family farm brings homegrown products to market
HALSTEAD – One year after moving to their new home, the Kucharo family is starting to see their farm produce enough bounty to supply their booths at farmers’ markets in Newton and McPherson.
The farm is run by Tim and Stephanie Kucharo, along with their son, Ryan, and his wife, Loretta.
“For a number of years, Mom has had chickens and a garden and cows to sustain our family,” Ryan said.
The dream of a family farm big enough to support more animals and gardens, along with room for three generations of Kucharos, finally came true last year.
“We wanted to live on the same property,” Tim said.
Their new acreage has a rock-lined creek running through it, and elderberries, mulberries, sand plums and serviceberries ripe for the picking.
“They were here when we got here, so we were able to harvest them,” Ryan said.
The Kucharos are working to grow their farm in complementary ways such as planting grasses that will feed their cattle as well as provide nourishment for their bees. Composting provides natural fertilizer for their gardens.
“We’ve always had a joy in producing and making things from scratch, from start to finish,” Loretta said.
That self-sustaining aspect was appealing to Stephanie and Loretta, who are both master gardeners.
“Our slogan is ‘real people, real products,’” Loretta said.
The Kucharos are proud of what they grow and bake, and have earned several ribbons from the Kansas State Fair.
Their new farm allows them to expand their efforts and raise chickens, pigs, goats, and cattle.
“Dad and I are the cattle wranglers and the fence builders, but Loretta is the cow whisperer,” Ryan said. “If we need to find a cow, Loretta will go out and it’ll follow her wherever she goes.”
Stone Creek Family Farm brings eggs, soaps, jellies, produce, and baked goods available singly or in bulk to their booths at the farmers’ markets.
“We don’t plan to be a huge operation,” Ryan said. “We make things with a process that we can sustain and produce a quality product. At the end of the day, we may sell out and that’s okay with us.”
The Kucharos were surprised at the demand for both fresh produce and more niche items such as their redbed blossom jelly.
“It’s kind of neat when someone is looking for something you have,” Stephanie said.
Tim said they can already feel a bond with regular customers, and he appreciates chatting with them to get feedback on their offerings and requests for additional products.
Some items spark memories in the minds of those who come by the Stone Creek Family Farm booth.
“It’s fun to talk about our products and what makes them unique,” Ryan said. “One lady came by and talked about how she hadn’t had mulberry jelly since she was a kid.”
At their booths, the Kucharos see people who are at different points along the spectrum of concerns about coronavirus.
“We see people that come up and are a little more cautious, don’t want to touch things and wear a mask and them some that want to pick out their own potatoes, and that’s fine,” Ryan said. “We want to make things a comfortable experience for everyone.”
Plans for the farm’s future months are already in the works.
“We’ll have pork ready in the fall,” Ryan said. “We’re (also) looking at milling wood and selling Kansas-grown wood products.”
The Kucharos work their land, but credit a higher power for their harvest.
“Everything comes from the ground and the property,” Tim said. “…They’re all products that God has given us.“
The Harvey County Farmers Market, located at 320 N. Main St. in Newton, is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
The McPherson County Farmers Market, located at 600 W. Woodside St. in McPherson, is open from 7:30am to noon on Saturdays.
For more information about Stone Creek Family Farm, visit its Facebook page.