A sustainable friendship

A SUSTAINABLE FRIENDSHIP

By Sara Gibbs

 From left, Leeta and Patrick Kennedy, owners of Stone Cross Farm, with Ouita Michel and Adriel Gray, Leeta's brother and Stone Cross sales representative

From left, Leeta and Patrick Kennedy, owners of Stone Cross Farm, with Ouita Michel and Adriel Gray, Leeta's brother and Stone Cross sales representative

Stone Cross Farm has been described as the best-kept secret in Spencer County. Located on 103 acres of peaceful, rolling farmland along a long gravel lane near Taylorsville, Ky., the farm is owned by Patrick and Leeta Kennedy who moved there in 1990 after Patrick’s 140-acre family farm near Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville was taken for development. Patrick learned sustainable farming techniques from his grandfather on that Louisville farm, which had been in their family since the early 1800s. His farm and production philosophy came from his father and grandfather: “The soil is the foundation of everything else you build upon it,” Patrick said. “Keeping fields and pastures healthy is essential to good livestock production and success.”

The Kennedys started selling products they raised at farmer’s markets in the Louisville area.  They raise livestock and sell meat and eggs as well as handmade soap and now cheese under the name Cloverdale Creamery as a branch of the Stone Cross brand. Today, they still sell their products at the Douglass Loop Farmer’s Market in Louisville, but concentrate on wholesale and retail accounts.

Both Patrick and Leeta grew up around farmers. Patrick spent much of his youth learning skills from his grandfather such as welding, carpentry and mechanics that enable him to be self-sufficient with his own farming operation. He has mastered the art of trimming meat, and of making artisanal cheese and sausage, which are value-added products offered to wholesale and retail accounts. He coordinates distribution of meat and cheese to restaurants and retail accounts in Indiana and Kentucky, yet finds time to grow vegetables, to care for his beef and dairy cattle and his chickens, to make soap and to oversee various construction projects for the farm and for family. 

“No one looks cooler than Patrick Kennedy,” said Ouita Michel, Honeywood owner. “He belongs on a Southern rock album.

“We have worked with Stone Cross Farm for 12 years and love cooking with their pork roasts, and chops, sausages, whole hogs for our Epiphany feasts, hams, burgers, pork bellies and cheese. Patrick does it all."

Patrick says his wife, Leeta, is the brains of their operation. Growing up, Leeta worked at her grandfather’s John Deere business in Shelby County, becoming well acquainted with tractors and all types of farm machinery. Leeta coordinates billing, handles queries from prospective and current clients and serves as computer specialist. She keeps their business organized with the help of her canine companion, Daisy.

Honeywood will join all of Ouita’s restaurants as a client of Stone Cross, providing breakfast sausage (which Ouita said is the best she’s ever eaten) and pork belly for brunch, and pork chops for dinner.

Honeywood executive chef Josh Smouse started cooking with Stone Cross products while testing recipes for the Honeywood menu. “What I love about Patrick, besides his wonderful product, is that he is a true local food pioneer and has a keen understanding of what his customers need and expect,” Josh said.

Patrick appreciates Josh’s commitment to historical Kentucky culinary techniques and the vision he has for Honeywood. “We are very thankful to be part of Ouita's restaurants and look forward to the future with Honeywood.”

— Chef, restaurant veteran, food stylist and cookbook author Sara Gibbs has worked more than seven years with Ouita and Chris Michel as recipe archivist and recipe developer for their restaurant group. Sara has a culinary arts degree from Sullivan University, is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan and has a master’s of library science degree from the University of Maryland. She and her husband, Tom, take care of an 18-acre farm southeast of Louisville.