Each month, MSAN will highlight one of the many hard-working producers here in Mississippi making a difference in their communities by committing to natural, sustainable, and regenerative models of agriculture. It’s not just about good food; it’s about good people.
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Alderman Farms (Brookhaven, MS)
Tommy Alderman and his wife, Patti, have run their Brookhaven, MS “homestead” farm since 2000 with more love and care than the average farmer. Their farm offers a variety of odds and ends from pastured eggs, pastured poultry, pastured pork, and will soon add Boar/Nubian cross goats and increased vegetable production. The entire farm is 160 acres but only 15-20 is currently being utilized. “There is a lot of room for growth. In the next five years we hope to be fully sustainable, financially profitable farm. I want for my sons, Cameron or Cory to be able to step in if that’s something he chooses to do.”
At Alderman farms, they are raising their goats as well as their chickens without feed. They are also starting to breed their goats to be not only meat goats, but also milking goats. By fall, the Alderman’s will have 3,4 hogs ready for slaughter. “We’ve worked with a local chef that uses the hogs for his farm to table restaurant.” Tommy also explained how soil chemistry is so well known, but we don’t know that much about soil biology. Soil chemistry, for those who aren’t in the know, is the study of the chemical characteristics of soil. Mineral composition, organic matter and environmental factors affect soil chemistry. Soil biology on the other hand is the study of microbial and faunal activity and ecology in soil. Soil life, soil biota, or soil fauna is a collective term that encompasses all the organisms that spend a significant portion of their life cycle within a soil profile, or at the soil-litter interface. “If we build it, the earthworms will come. Over time the constant planting without some sort of rotation drains the earth of its natural nutrients. It’s so common to just throw fertilizer on it and go on. We should be learning about how to nourish the soil and not take away from it.” The Alderman’s plan on learning more about soil building and how they can not only produce a good product, but also how to better their soil quality in the process.
Patti’s joy lies in her garden as well as with her goats. The smaller garden is where the mint, basil, garlic, onions, parsley, chamomile, and a variety of tomatoes are located. The smiles she sees on the faces of those who frequent the Brookhaven Farmer’s market and their booth remind them why they are doing this. It also helps when their 3-year-old grandson, Tomas, comes to the farm. “He gets out here and helps anyway possible. I think we may have a future farmer on our hands,” Patti explained.
Tommy and Patti have four children Cameron, 25; Chelsea Chaves, 23 (husband, Guillermo), Carlianne, 20; and Cory, 18. They also have one grandchild, Tomas Chaves, 3.
By Taylor Blue, Summer 2015 Intern
Photos by Danny Klimetz