Day Job/Night Job: Body Tech and Family Start Holistic Homestead in Central Minnesota
By Ed Attanasio, Autobody News
Published Feb. 7, 2023
When technician Justin Brockner isn’t fixing cars, he and his wife, Candice, run a 17-acre farm that has quickly become an attraction for people in Brook Park, MN, and the surrounding area. They call it Holistic Homestead and six years ago, this couple added farming to the growing list of amazing things they do---including parenting three boys with a girl on the way, homeschooling, physique competitions, Candice's line of healthy products and Justin working at local body shops to pay the bills.
Justin’s career in collision repair goes back more than two decades.
“I have been working on cars pretty much my entire life,” Justin said. “My dad was a self-employed mechanic who did a lot of restorations and had his own car collections. I kind of grew up around cars and in the automotive repair industry.
"I worked in a service station in high school, doing oil changes and wheel alignments," Justin continued. "I went to body school for a two-year degree and I have been working in collision repair since then. I did my first restoration when I was probably 12 or 13, and I took it to the state fair. It was a 1948 International pickup.”
The family's farm began in 2017 with flowers, and now the family raises chickens, rabbits, goats and ducks, and grows a wide range of organic produce and bulk herbs.
“We would always just plant flowers to pollinate our gardens,” Candice said. “Then it turned into selling those flowers and into selling extra vegetables and eggs, as well as raising pastured poultry for our family and community.”
In October 2021, the couple opened the Holistic Homestead Farm Boutique, an “occasional boutique” open most weekends, offering a variety of unique items, including a line of handcrafted herbal remedies, kitchenware, pantry staples, home decor, many gift options, apparel, books, seeds, gardening supplies, games and an entire room dedicated to children and babies.
The Brockners have always had big plans for their farm and boutique.
“The business has evolved naturally,” Candice said. “Everything we make and grow is first for our family and then the rest is for the community. At the beginning, we just wanted to have a space where people could gather and where we could share what we have here. Families love this place because it’s a beautiful spot and they can come here and unwind.”
The farm is in their DNA, Candice said.
“Well, I suppose it was kind of our way of living and being self-sufficient," she said. "We've been gardening since our early 20s, canning food for our family. But it was about, I would say, six years ago when we launched the business initially with our herbal remedies. It all kind of just started as a way of life. You know, things that we use, and make ourselves and wanted to share them with other people. Over the years, that just evolved into wanting to have a space to offer to the community, for just a space for people to gather."
When opportunity knocked to expand the farm, the Brockners answered the call, Justin said.
“The farm next to our homestead is about 710 acres and it went up for sale in the summer of 2021," he said. "We were always talking to a neighbor about wanting to get some of that land from him. So, when it went up for sale, we thought this is our chance to expand. There's a very nice barn on the property which would enable us to have more animals; we wanted to get into dairy goats. We wanted the land and we wanted to use the barn for animals, but we also had this house sitting there and it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to offer our products to the community through this outlet.”
Now the homestead holds events for the community during the year.
“We do a Summer Solstice Festival in June and then we did another festival in August, like an end of summer festival,” Candice said. “And then all through October, we are open every weekend. We created a lot of little activities for families and we invite people to hang out here, with picnic tables set up all over the property.”
The couple is into competitive-level fitness in addition to running their farm and boutique, Justin said.
“We entered physique competitions there for a little while, and we did other coaching," he said. "I have a health and wellness coaching certificate; Candice is a certified holistic nutritionist and we try to motivate people to pursue their goals and dreams, and coaching them is a big part of it.”
It all ties into what the Brockners are doing at Holistic Homestead---pursuing their passion and teaching people a new and healthier way of living along the way.
Visit their website at www.holistichomesteadmn.com.