The pandemic was life-changing Christy Cheshire and Rich Kirtley, who created a new business named Flock & Leaf after adding more than 50 chickens and 12 quails to their family farm.
Cheshire said that after living in Las Vegas for about 11 years, when she arrived back home in Utica she wanted to continue her gardening and farming passion as a hobby.
“I started raising chickens just for fun as a hobby during the pandemic. I was able to work remotely for my job so it was just something to do for fun, and then it just kind of grew from there,” she said.
Cheshire said at their 11-acre farm, they already had three dogs that would protect the chickens and a coop that needed to be fixed, plus an area that would be good to grow microgreens. They just needed the time to dedicate to it.
What started off as a flock of eight turned into their now 50+ pasture-raised chickens along with 12 quail.
Originally the farm was to be a source for eggs for the house, but it eventually grew into the business they have now.
The chicken eggs range in color with greens, blues, browns, and whites, while the quail eggs come in blue and speckled.
Their offerings go beyond egg, though.
“I have always loved growing things. We brainstormed and thought about what I could grow in addition to our herbs and garden that we grow for ourselves. So I started with microgreens and edible flowers,” Cheshire said.
She said that Kirtley would work at his barbershop during the day, and because of his love of cooking would come home and prepare what was grown that day. That led to adding another component of using their products to make charcuterie boards for clients.
Cheshire hopes to dedicate more time toward her microgreens and edible flowers as they head into the summer and fall to ensure she’s providing the best product for their clients.
“Every customer that we have means something to us, whether we’ve met before or not. They’re supporting our farm and supporting our passion and allowing us to continue to do something that we love. It means the world to us,” she said.
Throughout it all, Kirtley said it’s been very rewarding to see how everyone has responded to the couple chasing their passions.
She said it’s provided a chance for her to connect with the community and new people over something that everyone enjoys: food.
“You’re connecting with people, you’re making new friends, you’re bonding even if you’re old friends,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful thing altogether and food brings people together. When you do what you can to make it special and people appreciate it, it’s special.”