Woodcarver Dan Stewart and wife Patricia use their skills to develop an agritourism business“There are some dates in life you remember, February 5, 2008, is one of them for us.” The story of Dan and Patricia Stewart of Mountain View, Ark., doesn’t start on that ominous date, but their road in life does take a turn at that moment in history. “We use that tornado as a time post in our lives, pre-tornado and post-tornado.”
The story of the Stewarts and Star Gap Farm revolves around Dan and Patricia and the life they have built from the land along Star Gap Road in Stone County, Ark. “The road on the farm ends at our house now, but it used to fork at the top of the mountain. Riggsville was down there somewhere around 1830. Long before Mountain View was on the map,” Dan told of the narrow road running through the farm. “This was originally my grandpa’s. He bought it back in the 1930s. Mom and dad bought it from grandma when grandpa died. Now we own it.
“I have an uncle who carved and I always liked to carve. In the 1970s I worked as a woodcarver at a dulcimer shop in downtown Mountain View. In 1976 I took a job at the Ozark Folk Center and worked there for a while. In the 1980s I picked up a contract to carve a Nativity Scene for the Arkansas State Capitol. It was a life sized carving. I even carved a small Nativity Scene for the Governor’s Mansion and an ornament for the White House,” Dan told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. “We also carved for a guy on the west coast who wholesaled the carvings.
“I started helping him in 1988 with the carving and did that until the tornado blew everything away on February 5, 2008,” recalled Patricia. “It was black and green everywhere. We crawled under the house and could see the trees bending when the door was sucked open,” Dan told of the long track tornado. “After it was over, we crawled out and found the roof was gone. The other house on the place was leveled. We lost five barns, two stock trailers and the carving shop and all of the tools. So that ended carving for a while.”
Dan and Patricia started life again from the remains of their place, “It took us at best 2 and a half years to rebuild.” And rebuild they did, Dan tells OFN of the rebuild process, “We never got back to the guy we were carving for. With the slate wiped clean, we started something new in 2009. We always had a garden, so we helped get a farmers market together in Mountain View.”
Over time the Stewarts developed an extensive client list for their produce. That success led them to develop their current agritourism project. “In 2013 we started looking at a pumpkin patch and corn maze. There wasn’t anything like it in the county. It worked out real well, people really liked it,” tells Patricia of their new venture. “There were a lot of pumpkins. We had never even been to a pumpkin patch. I guess we were gluttons for punishment.” The pumpkin patch and corn maze provided a new avenue of farm income for Dan and Patricia in addition to their beef cattle herd and farm fresh produce.
The Stewarts also built a small village on their homestead and created a new space for the carvings Dan started creating again, “We built the little village over time. We used some of the downed trees from the tornado to build that barn back.” The village consists of some small buildings that house an assortment of antiques and items of interest for visitors to the farm as well as Dan’s carvings.
Dan and Patricia found a modern day way of reaching out with their old time charm and activities to a new group of patrons, “We used Facebook for our advertising. It was amazing how quickly it spread.” Patricia found the interaction using online services of great help to their operation, “Social media really worked. We noticed the pictures of growing and blooming flowers was a real interaction for us. We noticed they were shared a lot.” When asked about their visitors, Patricia stated they come from far and just across the valley, “We had some come from Missouri but a lot came from a 50-mile radius. We do this ourselves, no help. We are only open on weekends and that seemed to work for people.”
After almost 40 years of marriage, Dan and Patricia have built a life from their spread on Star Gap Farm. From wind swept devastation to a life built from those ruins, the Stewarts overcame challenges to create a life on the farm. With a son and grandson to help in the future, opportunity is written in the stars for the Stewarts.


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