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Hidden Gems: Meet Milton and Gina Hambly of Hambly Farms

Today we’d like to introduce you to Milton and Gina Hambly.

Hambly Farms started in 2019 in San Miguel, CA. Milton’s great grandfather homesteaded in the Carissa Plains in 1886 making their family 5th generation in the Paso Robles area. The family grew crops and managed almond and walnut orchards. Gina’s family settled in Paso Robles where they had a dairy and farmed. The Mastagni ranch was where Firestone Walker Brewery is currently located, in fact, the original grain silo is still standing there today. Both Milton and Gina work full time – Milton is an 8th grade and community college teacher and Gina works for the County of San Luis Obispo. Hambly Farms began as a way to return to their family heritage- farming and ranching. Milton and Gina had no experience in farming except for growing their yearly vegetable garden, and their children were very active in 4-H and FFA growing up, raising hogs, goats and steers on friends’ properties. In 2017, they purchased 26 acres in west San Miguel.

After two years of clearing the land, they were ready to begin their adventure. They connected with a local nursery, Nature’s Touch, and after a consultation with owner Melanie Blankenship, came up with the plan for Hambly Farms. The soil conditions and hot climate are perfect for growing lavender and raising honey bees. In the first year, 550 lavender plants went in the ground and they took off! They were not expecting much lavender the first year, but the Sweet Lavender produced five cuttings and Provence Lavender produced another one. With lavender coming in weekly, they brainstormed what products to create. Living off the land is a challenge, but it is one they enjoy! They produce much of their own meat- or source from other local farmers – and grow an annual vegetable garden. They share as much as they are able with family and neighbors, and that is really fulfilling. They are excited to see where Hambly Farms will take them in the future as they grow the farm and expand into other areas and products.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
We have been fortunate to have knowledgeable people be generous with their time and share their experience. We still make plenty of mistakes and learn from them. This last year has been difficult for many people for several reasons. We were a brand new business that didn’t really know any differently. We created opportunities to share our products and looked for ways to support our community. We are fortunate to live in a community that supports local businesses, and we are truly grateful for the support we received. We anticipate many more hiccups in the future, but we work together, talk things through and make the best decision we can with the information we have available to us at the time.

We’ve been impressed with Hambly Farms, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Hambly Farms is a small hobby farm specializing in growing lavender. We have been in business for just over a year. We are building our operation from the ground up, adding more plants and products each season. The farm is being laid out so we can maximize our space while also benefiting the ecosystem.

We planted lavender because our soil conditions and hot climate are the perfect combination for the plants to thrive.Hambly Farms grows five varieties of lavender and when in bloom, it looks and smells amazing. The purpose for growing different varieties is that each one blooms at a different time in the year and feeds the bees. We grow Grosso and Sweet Lavender for our salve and other lavender products. The Hidcote is used for dried flowers and crafts while Provence and Dutchmill are edible. Our bees feed on lavender, rosemary, sages and various other California native plants and trees around the farm. The chickens not only provide breakfast but they serve as our natural pest control, feasting on bugs and harmful insects that could adversely affect our plants. We are known for producing quality products sourced from our farm or local nearby farms and exceptional customer service. Plus, we offer shipping and free local delivery.

Our locally-grown or locally-sourced products contain no chemicals or pesticides. We are long-time locals to the area and the community knows our product quality. We are stewards of the land and have a commitment to our community and customers. We didn’t think we would be able to harvest our first year, but our Sweet Lavender took off and bloomed profusely last summer. Our production exceeded expectations and will enable us to continue producing our lavender products into the next harvest season. Being that they were new products, feedback from customers who have tried either the Lavender Vanilla Linen Spray or the Lavender Salve has been overwhelmingly positive and we have many repeat customers.

We have wonderful all-natural, calming and healing products and we want to continue to bring those to our customers. Additionally, we plan to expand our product offerings. Gina is always coming up with new ideas for products and how we can them to market– stay tuned, we have a big year coming up!

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
We have different strengths and complement each other nicely. Milton enjoys being outside growing and nurturing the lavender- starting with a small plant in the freshly- turned soil, nurturing, watering, and watching it grow and producing for us. Gina is the public face of Hambly Farms and enjoys going to a pop-up show or weekend event and visiting with our customers. It is extremely satisfying when we receive feedback from customers about how our products have helped them heal or relax. We are pretty new to farming, but we have learned a lot and that is what we enjoy most.

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