Ahna and Cam Frye continue the family tradition of farming in Alabaster at Alleluia Acres Heritage Farm.
By Barry Wise Smith
Photos by Brit Huckabay
Ahna Frye is the sixth generation of her family to live and work on the Alabaster property on County Road 26 purchased by her third great grandfather in 1850. Following in the footsteps of her great grandfather and her grandfather, who ran a successful sawmill and cane sugar syrup mill on the land, Ahna and her husband Cam started Alleluia Acres Heritage Farm in 2014. “We started small and evolved to what we are now,” Ahna says.
The Fryes started the farm on 40 acres—10 fenced—that they cleared and fenced themselves with the help of Ahna’s father who passed away in January. “Dad was a huge help with the farm,” Ahna says. “Anything we needed done, he was always there to help.” The couple added heritage breeds of animals in 2015, including laying chickens, meat chickens, ducks (for eggs), dairy goats, a dairy cow, beef cattle, and hogs. Heritage breeds are varieties of animals prevalent prior to the advent of commercial farming in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Fryes pride themselves on raising their animals as cleanly and naturally as possible. “We are truly pasture to plate,” Ahna says. The couple, who had searched for a name for their farm, received divine inspiration at church one day, and Alleluia Acres was born.
The Fryes didn’t start out as farmers. After graduating from Thompson High School in 2009, Ahna went to Montevallo with the goal of becoming a teacher. While there, she met Cam, who grew up in Montevallo. A welder by trade, Cam went in to construction while Ahna started her teaching career at Creekview Elementary School in Alabaster before moving to the Pelham school system. When the pandemic closed schools and Ahna and Cam welcomed their son (now 11/2, their son is the seventh generation to occupy the land), Ahna—now a National Board Certified Teacher—took the opportunity to be at home and teaches fourth grade online for Connections Academy. With lessons learned from the farm, Cam started a land clearing business called Acre by Acre Land Management.
Once Alleluia Acres was up and running, the Fryes found a niche for themselves raising clean meats. They get their feed from Reseca Sun in Georgia whose feed in 100 percent non-GMO. The company created a formulation just for the Fryes that is corn, soy, and wheat free. “Once you have pasture-raised clean meat, you will never want to go back to the commercial meat again,” Cam says proudly.
Currently the Fryes sell their products direct to consumer through their website alleluiaacresheritagefarm.com and have built a loyal consumer base through word of mouth in the community and through their social media presence on Instagram (alleluia.acres) and Facebook (Alleluia Acres Heritage Farm). The Frye’s pork (Tamworth hogs, which produce a very lean meat) is their most popular product with orders for individual cuts taken yearound and whole and half hog orders taken certain times of the year. Ahna also uses the raw cow and goat milk and lard from the pork to make soaps, lotions, and other body care products under the name Alleluia Apothecary. “We use everything from head to tail so nothing is wasted,” she says.
Ever the teacher, Ahna has developed a curriculum for traveling field trips called Farmer Frye where she takes animals to classrooms to introduce kids to farming. The Fryes hope to host field trips and other groups on the farm in the future. Other future plans include a small farm store that would be open on Saturdays to sell the Fryes goods to the public and a milking barn where people could see the milking process in person.
“We’re the only farm in the area doing heritage breeds,” Ahna says. Cam chimes in, “Absolutely, it’s so important to support local farms.”