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Kayla Haupt + Homesteading in Iowa


Kayla Haupt + Homesteading in Iowa

Ben Ashby

Kayla Haupt


Homesteader, a first-generation farmer, and single stay-at-home mother, Kayla Haupt, lives in rural Iowa on a small farm that sits among one of the largest Amish settlements west of the Mississippi River. This master gardener spends her days close to the land, working to instill the idea of sustainability, creativity, and seasonal living in others through her blog and the business, Under a Tin Roof, she launched with her mother, Jill, in 2015. 

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Growing up it was just my parents and me, so I spent a lot of time imagining elaborate storylines for my dolls and pretending I lived in the woods behind my house. That led me to writing, and I planned to pursue a career in film directing and screenwriting. That changed when I found out that I was going to have my son! He was a pleasant surprise, and he started a domino effect leading us to what we now do for a living. 

I never knew much about food, nor did I care much about it. It was an unhealthy relationship…sometimes I’d skip, sometimes I’d gorge, and I ate fast food and processed groceries. That all changed when I got pregnant and started cooking. I knew what I ate would affect my son, and I did not want him addicted to junk food! But, I still didn’t really understand real, whole food.

I began to experiment and learn. I fell in love with growing vegetables and collecting eggs from our backyard chickens. My family realized that whole food with minimal processing was important. Fresh tasted better and was healthier for us—this made an enormous impact on our lives.

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It was a huge accomplishment to convert our kitchen from processed foods to whole food and to eat by the seasons. We now eat meat that is butchered at that time of year and cook with the vegetables and fruits that are growing. In the cold months, we eat the food that I put by in the summer.  

In December 2017 we moved to our small three and a half acre farm. We were living in a nearby town for a few years before that—after a bigger move from Houston in 2015 when I was pregnant.

We were feeling our way into a new lifestyle, I was blogging, and we had started our business making and selling useful, handmade goods, learning as we went. Moving to a farm was not our plan, but when the property went up for sale, we were drawn to it. With more than 800 mature aronia berry bushes, a large garage we envisioned could be a small store to sell our creations, and a gorgeous 20th-century foursquare farmhouse...we made the leap! 

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It’s been a whirlwind working to grow produce and cut flowers and expand our business to include farming. My mom is a talented illustrator, and I am a writer—so the combination of our skills works well, and we are dedicated to living an inspiring lifestyle on our homestead and through our business…so encouraged by the opportunity of more farming!

We now grow and sell vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, and our shop hosts a small country store where we sell various useful, handmade goods that we design and make ourselves like sustainable apparel, household items, hand poured beeswax candles and embroidery kits. We offer pasture-raised eggs from our hens and fresh baked goods that I make on special occasions.

We also participate in a seasonal Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where customers can purchase a share of our farm among others and receive fresh produce, flowers, and meats to enjoy during the summer and autumn seasons. 

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It's the history behind slow living that draws me to it; my ancestors lived this way not too long ago. Somehow that art was lost in more recent years with advanced farming technology. But, I no longer want to buy useless products or ones that make us unhealthy. I love the idea of creating my own economy by growing and raising food! My most profound goal in this entire lifestyle change is to share these tips with my son, Tad, so he can pass them on to his children.

There has to be a balance—I cannot be a total purist. Sometimes I eat a box of crackers and some days I buy meat from the grocery store. So, while I strive to do it all; shear the sheep, spin the wool, and knit the sweater, that's not possible. We do the best we can, and we're changed people because of the small yet substantial steps we've taken in just a few years. We want to encourage others to do the same.

Our website offers info on homesteading topics like keeping chickens, growing and eating your own food, living a waste-free lifestyle, herbal healing, and natural cleaning. We want our readers and customers to feel as if they can make a difference in their own lives with wholesome, simple, seasonal living.

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My cooking style is old-fashioned—rustic and simple. I’m inspired by recipes of the 18th and 19th centuries—I love reading them and putting my spin on their elements. 

If we have friends over for supper, I like to make a chicken noodle soup, a black bean and sweet potato chili, or a beef stew—with fresh bread. My family’s favorite meal is pasture-raised chicken roasted in a cast iron skillet and basted with butter and rosemary. I add some chopped potatoes and onions, and we’re set!! Simple and good is the way to go for us.

Eating seasonally has taught me about where food comes from and how to live in harmony with the land to find fulfillment. Every year I feel the same way that I did the first time I ever grew my own food. When you bring that initial harvest into the house, clean and chop it, you feel this incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, humility and reward. I want as many people as possible to know that feeling, and I will continue to farm, work, write and cook to share it.

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