Kristin Binford, a fifth-generation member of the Howe (Haue) family, will take on the assignment of marketing a new venture at the family’s Thornton Road hillside farm home.
John Howe, who lived on the farm from 1891 to 1969, brought fame to the place with his grafted nut trees, and award-winning grapes and daffodils.
Today, the family calls the location a valley, naming the 246-acre property Haue Valley Farm for the Danish spelling of Howe’s name.
Much of the farm occupies a hillside that overlooks a landscape of new homes, a dense cedar woods and a valley dotted with black Angus cattle.
The level area where the original Howe house stood recently was improved with the construction of a 4,000-square-foot open-air pavilion that incorporates the tiny Howe family kitchen in one corner. The pavilion will provide table seating for 220.
Binford will offer the location for wedding ceremonies and receptions, or other events.
The first public event held in the new facility was the wedding reception of Binford’s sister Kesha McLaren to Ryan Nichols.
Binford, who has an under graduate degree in marketing and an MBA in business strategy, said the use of soft media — Facebook and Printerest — have shown a definite rise in the popularity of barn and outdoor weddings. At a July 25 open house, advertised only on Facebook, 115 confirmed a desire to visit the farm as a possible wedding site.
Local caterers, Hawthorne Inn, Third Rail and D’Angelos, were on hand at the open house to offer samples of their wares.
“The venue is the first thing prospective brides nail down in advance of a wedding,” Binford said. “Availability of a location often dictates the date for the wedding.”
A great advantage of the open-air Haue farm pavilion, which is ideal for spring and fall weddings, is that it can accommodate both the wedding ceremony and reception, which cuts down on travel time for the bridal party and guests.
“If a couple want to have a church ceremony and have the reception here, we’re fine with that, but if they want both at one place, we can easily accommodate that too,” Binford said.
She also noted that the business is not quite ready to book weddings.
“We had no idea there would be so much interest so fast,” she said. “We’re still refining some business points, but we are penciling in dates that people say they might want.”
Binford is the elder daughter of Bill and Linda McLaren, who market drug-free beef raised on the Haue farm and Crooked Creek Farm in rural Pacific.
McLaren, who describes himself as the caretaker of the Haue farm, which his mother Edith Howe McLaren inherited in 1967, has transformed the hillside property, rebuilding John Howe’s barn and planting thousands of daffodil bulbs on the slopes north and east of the house.
A grading contractor and local civic leader who has served as president of the Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce and currently heads the Pacific Partnership, McLaren said he likes raising cattle and making wine above all other endeavors.
John Howe grew grapes on the farm, which earned a second-place award from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. In recent years, McLaren has planted 300 grape vines on the slopes north (and in sight) of the new pavilion — Vignoles, Chambourcin, Cayuga and Traminette.
He and Binford have taken classes on the craft of making wine and have produced several wines, which are bottled with a Haue Valley Winery label.
“At some point there might be a Haue Valley Winery here, but that’s way off in the future,” Binford said. “Now, we’re concentrating on a wedding venue business.”
Although he has made apple, cherry, peach, pear, elderberry and grape wines, McLaren bottled 12 cases of semi-sweet Chardonel grape wine for his daughter Kesha’s recent wedding.
“I like making wine about as well as anything I’ve done,” he said.
The cedar timber for the interior of the new pavilion was cut on the two McLaren properties — the Haue farm and Crooked Creek. McLaren built a sawmill on his farm and enlisted the help of seven friends, Jim Harris, Loyd Harris, Gary Weisler, Bill West, Steve Flannery, Bill McDermott and Mike Muehler, to assist with the cutting.
The cutting party worked every weekend for 10 weekends to saw the boards for the building interior. Approximately 100 cedar trees were cut for the project. More than 25 very large trees were required for the eight-by-eight uprights 19 feet high that support the pavilion.
McLaren said he had been somewhat surprised that there were so many big cedars on the two properties. Cedars have migrated to this region in recent decades.
“Uncle John said there were cedars on the property when he was a kid,” McLaren said.
“There are some really big cedars up there,” he said, pointing north to a dense cedar woods visible from the open pavilion. “We didn’t cut any out of there because we didn’t want to harm the view.”
On a stone-paved patio that adjoins the pavilion, white chairs have been set up facing a handcrafted arbor, the kind favored for outdoor weddings. What the seated wedding party would see from this vantage point is the cedar woods and the snug Haue Valley ringed by green slopes.
“We think it’s an appealing place for a wedding,” Binford said.
For more information about Haue Valley Farm, email firstname.lastname@example.org.