As part of the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network’s annual farm tours, we’ll soon hit the road in Arkansas to learn how farmers there are tackling sustainability! With a variety of offerings from produce to livestock and eco-housing as well, we hope you’ll sign up and join us!
Each year, MSAN visits farms around the state and region to learn from some of the best models of sustainable agriculture close by. This year, there are three scheduled Sundays for Mississippi farm tours when we will be visiting three fantastic local farms per day. The Mississippi tours are free to attend and include lunch (visit the Farm Tours page on our website for more information on local tours).
- June 1: Pine Belt Farm Tours (check out our blog to read about this tour!)
- September 6: Northeast MS Farm Tours
- October 19: Southwest MS Farm Tours
In addition to the local tours, MSAN coordinates with a neighboring state to see what is happening just beyond our borders. Last year, we visited seven incredible farms throughout Alabama over the course of one weekend (read what MSAN BOD Member Jim Ewing had to say about that tour) . This year, we’ll be headed to Arkansas for a tour of 6-7 different farms on the weekend of August 16-17 and are inviting you to come along. Transportation, lodging for Saturday pm, and meals for both days will be included. Registration is $30/person ($15 for meals and lodging only if you will be taking your own transportation). There is limited space so be sure to register today online or by contacting us at email@example.com. Children are welcome but same fee applies. Priority goes to Mississippi Farmers.
After we leave from Oxford, MS early Saturday morning, we’ll travel up to Whitton Farms in Tyronza, AR. Keith and Jill Forrester raise a variety of heirloom vegetables, mushrooms and pasture raised pork that goes to both CSA’s and to their Memphis restaurant that serves up their local products. We’ll learn how they keep up with demand and keep a sustainable and organically driven operation.
Next we’ll see CWC Farms in Bradford. This farm raises heritage poultry – chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, as well as sheep, goats, cattle and livestock guardian dogs. Run by Carey Robertson, CWC specializes in operating as a low-input forage based farm and participate in several conservation programs. Some of these programs include Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Pollinator Enhancement Program.
Then the tour will go west to Falling Sky Farms where Cody Hopkins and Andrea Hodt grow lots and lots of grass that sustains their diversified livestock farm. Together they raise and sell pastured duck, chicken, turkeys, pork and beef in Leslie, AR while also running Conway Locally Grown. We will get to learn how they accomplish their mission of running a profitable, environmentally friendly farm that works in harmony with nature and a successful Buying Club that invigorates the local economy.
We’ll then venture to Meadowcreek Farms in Fox. On a 1600 acre nature reserve, Tim and Aliza Cummings have established a sustainable agriculture training and demonstration center in recent years. The farm has been helping people learn how to farm following sustainable and ecologically resilient principles for more than 30 years, most recently under the stewardship of the Cummings’. During our time there, we’ll get the chance to see and enjoy natural swimming holes, visit the vineyard, tour the 20+ year old blueberry patch and gardens, and even get a first hand look at passive solar buildings. We’ll be staying at Meadowcreek Saturday evening, so have time with them both on Saturday and first thing on Sunday.
On Sunday, the farm tours head to south to Food For Thought in Bigelow. AR. Here, Rod and Christi Collins have used their experience in eco-construction to create a sustainable micro-homestead and cottage industry. They grow vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs for teas, salves and salads, all while staying non-toxic and bio-diverse. They attribute their great growing success to their walking fertilizer machines: the rabbits, goats, chickens and pigs!
The tour then goes to visit Malvern, home of Arkansas Natural Produce and its owner Jay Fullbright. They’ve gotten greenhouse growing down to a science and produce greens year round along with growing other produce in their fields. This massive operation will be a great glimpse into managing wholesale and retail customers and maintaining sustainability once you achieve large scale production.
We round out the weekend by visiting Laughing Stock Farms in Sheridan, where Josh and Anna Hardin focus the whole farm on the health and status of their soil. They believe this is the best way to ensure the finest results in the fruits, vegetables and meat produced. This mission has paid off as they not only sell in local markets but directly to larger buyers as well.
We’ll come back to Mississippi Sunday evening filled with information and inspiration. It’s sure to be packed with so much knowledge and fun that we certainly can’t wait for these tours!
See the poster below for more information on the tours and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 662-452-0942 with questions or to reserve your spot today before they all fill up!
by Claire Campbell, MSAN Intern