Heaven Sent Food and Fiber is a sustainable farm, soap and yarn business managed by a partnership of two families. Moving from DFW, we (Paul and Coleen Thornton) started our 60 acre farm in 2009. Building on our experience market farming in Arlington, TX, we added hand-crafted goat milk soap and merino fleece and yarns, jersey dairy cows, ducks, and pigs. We quickly realized that the size and diversification was a complex system that required more hands, minds, creativity and technical know how than what the two of us could do. Paul is a fantastic builder, I know the husbandry, gardens and technical aspects of the soaps and fiber but there was still a big need for making things more efficient.
I met Sue Riccelli through the Tahlequah Farmer's Market, taught her how to drop spindle on a slow Saturday morning and a partnership was born. Sue brought her whole family into the loop as her husband Carl checks every egg for cracks and two grown sons help with the farm and soap projects. Sue was quickly up to speed on soap making and dyeing wool and took it from there. We often tell the story of how I taught Sue how to dye yarn one day, had to start dyeing before chores the following day, so that I could get some dyeing in before Sue arrived, and at that point she just "stole" the dye pots...and we are so glad she did. Check out our shop for the beautiful colors and combinations that Sue comes up with. Sue helps us organize and streamline so that we can enjoy our work so much more. Its wonderful to have Sue and family as partners in our effort to become a truly diversified, sustainable farm.
Now Sue handles most of the soap and fiber business while, I manage the "raw materials". It works out well for us and for our customers... come see us at Cherry Street Farmer's Market on Saturdays in Tulsa or drop us a line.
We strive to build our farm from the soil up. We have spent a lot of time and money working on our fertility in our pastures and garden. Unfortunately, our first soil sample (before we purchased) went astray, then after we got here and got the sample analyzed we realized how "farmed out" our little piece of Oklahoma really was. The only mineral we had enough of was Boron. Now, four years later we are observing the return of earthworms and dung beetles, native pollinators and wild animals are attracted to our pastures as we renew our farm with organic matter and the minerals that the plants so desparately needed. We have seeded our pastures to support our bee hives and continue to work on insuring that we have pollen and nectar sources available through out the growing seasons to provide natural forage.
In effort to reduce erosion and drain on our underground aquafers (as well as reduce weed pressure and keep our sanity) we moved to plasticulture for the garden in the spring of 2012. We didn't want to make the leap, due to the clean up that it costs; now we never want to garden without it again. We have a 2-1/2 acre garden that 1 personally can manage, only needing additional help in the peak periods and for transplanting. We are succession planting in the same plastic to reuse the resource wisely.
We use compost made from wasted hay and dried manures to increase the organic matter and encourage worms back into our systems; also, we lay mulch where possible to add organic matter as well as cut erosion and keep every drop of rain we get. Transplants are grown here, using our own recipe for potting soil from seed and sources promised to be safe from GMOs. We disagree with the patenting and genetic manipulation (outside of normal hybrid breeding, which is not the same thing) of our food supply. We are members of Seed Savers Exchange, Co-Chair of the Cherokee County Food Policy Council and on the policy review team for Oklahoma Food & Farm Alliance.
The recipes for our soaps were developed over time and each and every ingredient is chosen for its benefits. We carefully plan the aroma and skin therapy benefits before producing each new type of soap. Our soaps are made to provide your family with a value beyond what you can find in other places. These soaps will last a LONG time and our customers report marked improvements in their skin. Our hand-crafted soaps are mild enough to be used on face, hands or body and we keep them at every sink and shower in the house.
We strive to serve God and our community through making wonderful yarn and soap, growing great vegetables, fruit and grains in soil that has the best balance of minerals and nutrients, breeding happy, well-adjusted animals who are very people friendly, and giving back through helping our church, neighbors and organizations. We hope that our efforts promote family farms as a way to provide a living as well as a lifestyle for families.