Not So Half-baked: The Journey from Dream to Barn to Business

Cover detail from Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard

Editor's Note:

Tieghan Gerard is a food photographer, stylist, and recipe developer. Her blog, Half Baked Harvest, features a hearty mix of savory, sweet, healthy, and indulgent recipes – with a good amount of chocolate. She believes every diet should include a little bit of chocolate because balance is the key to life!

Growing up outside Cleveland, Ohio, I could not have imagined my life turning out as it has. As a kid, I thought I would call Cleveland home forever, although I did have dreams of being a fashion stylist in L.A. But then my family moved to the mountains of Colorado when I was in eighth grade, and that’s when everything changed for me. Although I’d been excited about the move, my teenage years were some of the hardest. I quickly learned anxiety can cross state lines – but I also began to learn how to manage it through my love of cooking.

As I became more passionate about cooking, my mom encouraged me to start a food blog as a way to document my recipes and potentially share them with the world. Little did we know that starting Half Baked Harvest would turn into what it has become.

As the blog grew, it slowly began to turn into a full-time job. Within a year of its creation, I realized living and working at home in a family of nine (I was then nineteen) was no longer an option. I needed a real workspace. On a whim, my parents and I sat down one Friday night and looked online through the local real estate. They say that everything happens for a reason, and for me, that could not be more true. We found a property on the outskirts of our little mountain town that had not only farmland, but also the cutest little horse barn – the perfect space to renovate into a home studio.

At this time, my parent’s home in Cleveland was being rented, but was still for sale. We, too, had been renting in Colorado in the meantime. In a twist of fate, the day after my parents put an offer in on this property, they also received an offer on the Cleveland house. And just like that, life in the barn began to take shape. It took a while to renovate the barn, but farm life has since become a new way of living for my family and me.

My family lives in the main house, which is about a football field’s distance away from my barn. Some might hate living so close to their family, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today we have eight goats, twelve chickens, one rooster, and are currently making room to add horses. It’s a small farm, but it’s growing.

I cook with the eggs our chickens provide, and use milk from our goats, one of which is due to have kids this fall. The chickens we collect eggs from almost daily, and the goats need milking once a day. We’ve raised these animals from the time they were babies (and even had three sets of goat kids born within two weeks of each other!). It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s worth it. Because of the cold temperature at night, we also have a greenhouse where we grow fresh herbs, flowers, and tomatoes. Being able to cook and bake with farm-fresh ingredients is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do, but now I can’t imagine it any other way.

As I’ve continued to grow my business, many things have come to fruition, like my very first cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook. I not only tested and wrote this cookbook in my barn, but I also photographed all of the photos you’ll see inside. Throughout the book there are glimpses of my life at home in the barn, including a sneak peek inside my kitchen, autumn in Colorado, day-old baby goats, and, of course, some of my most beloved recipes, recipes like my Apple Ricotta Pancakes with Bacon Butter, Mrs. Mooney’s Penne, and Mom’s One-Bowl Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I’ve been both living and working out of this space for about two and half years now, and while I love it so much, I have somehow managed to outgrow it. Half Baked Harvest has grown into a business I never could have dreamed of, and we finally made the decision to build a bigger space that will act solely as a studio, the HBH Studio Barn. This new barn is currently being built, and I am so excited for my life and my business to continue to grow into new adventures I’ve yet to dream up!