During the National Women in Agriculture Association (NWIAA) Conference in Jackson, Mississippi, we had a chance to do farm tours. As you probably already know that I love farm tours and having a chance to meet female and male African-Americans that own their own working farms, I knew that I had to go!
The first farm we visited was a 100 acres farm called PEAPATCH which is run by Portia Anderson, a fellow NWIAA member. The farm is designed and dedicates for educating families and youth about the importance of botany. Its mission is to cultivate a desire to love nature by learning to recognize trees, flowers, herbs, and all plants for their edible, medicinal and ornamental value and properties. Ms. Anderson had over 20 years of experience in farming and has knowledge on herbs and its medicinal properties is her passion. While we were there Ms. Anderson gave us a tour of the property and showed us greenhouse which had various herbs and flowers. On her grounds she has peaches, asparagus and grapefruit to name a few. What I found very interesting about her raised beds garden that she uses cement blocks which has few corrosion and breakage compare to wood over a period of time.
The next stop was Foot Print Farm, LLC which is run by the famous president and CEO, Dr. Cindy Ayers who resides on 80 plus acres of land and is using only 40 acres of the land for farming. At this farm, she grows vegetables, raises goats and educates new farmers with the assistance of Dr. Evans from Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University. Her farms helps bring fresh affordable locally grown food to our communities in addition to introducing the policies of United States Department Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) . Through the NRCS grant the farm has a seasonal high tunnel for the crops and so to be new irrigation system. The farm is also placing solar panels at a very low cost to run electricity and the tennis courts area has been been used as a chicken coop. The farm is using the chicken coop for not only the eggs but most for the very hot selling chicken manure. Eventually Dr. Ayers is looking at doing agricultural tourism and is currently working with the 4 H group and the local football team with leasing a plot for selling foods to raise money. Now that is a truly a working farm!
The last farm that we had visited to was a traditional ranch called the “Spur Ranch” which is run by Mr. David Reginald Funches. Mr. Funches is a herdsman at Hinds Community College, a small ranch owner and horses trainer at Spurpoint Ranch in Raymond, MS. Mr. Funches has raised cattle, chickens and goats but now trained horses for the public and competitions with his daughters. He has teamed up with Donald Wilkson to move a higher level of completion of training horses for which the purpose of reining and cutting horses. He also enjoys teaching the youth of community as well as his daughters how to rope and ride horses. While we were on the ranch Mr. Funches and his crew gave us a show on calf roping, horse racing and sorting cattle. I also had a personal encounter with an adorable suckling calf on the ranch grounds. The Spur Ranch purpose is to promote a breed of sound-minded Quarter horses and at the same time better others in training and understanding the mind of the Equine. It was truly an honor to meet great American cowboys whose passion is to help others and to see their appreciation for horses.
I have learned so much from these farmers and rancher that I am looking more into possibly in the future running my own farm. It is so glad to see these incredible African Americans pursuing their dreams and making a great difference in their communities. Their commitment for teaching the youth to that they too can pursue an rewarding career in agricultural . Click here to check out more pictures.