Saturday, August 13, 2022

Yokna Bottom Farm is Champion of Natural Farming in Oxford

Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, run by Ole Miss social science professor Doug Davis, has a larger purpose than growing fresh vegetables. 

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Professor Davis has owned the farmhouse at Yocona Bottom Farm since 2010.

“Our mission here is to be an agricultural leader and educate the public about the benefits of organic foods and promoting local food sources and a local food economy,” explained Davis, who bought Yokna’s farmhouse and six acres of mostly pine forest in 2010.
Since then Davis and a small staff of farm supporters have transformed the farm into productive cropland, producing organically grown vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cauliflower, all varieties of green vegetables, several species of carrots, onions, and even garlic, among many other fresh offerings.
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Sprouting veggies grown in the farm’s greenhouse in the cold weather before planting in the fields.

“When I say organic, I mean food that is produced with natural farming methods that don’t use pesticides and respect the integrity of the soil,” Davis said. “Technically we are certified as ‘Naturally Grown.’ As a small grower the license for a USDA ‘Organic’ is too expensive, but we’ve certainly set ourselves apart from the corporate food system. Organically produced food is the fastest growing segment of the national food market.”
Davis adds that most cities in the South, outside of Atlanta, don’t offer a grocer like Whole Foods, which provides predominantly organic and naturally grown food. “Frankly, there’s just not enough supply or demand for fresh foods in most of the South,” Davis said.
But Yokna Bottoms is trying to change that in Oxford. The farm offers a Community Sponsored Agricultural Network (CSA), in which families pay a subscription and pick up a box of fresh, pesticide-free vegetables every week during growing season.
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Garlic is a hardy cold-weather crop.

“Seventy percent of what we grow on the farm goes directly to our families in the CSA,” Davis said. “The rest goes to two farmers markets in town — Midtown Farmers Market and the new operation on the West Oxford Loop — and to a few local restaurants interested in sustainable food sources, like The Ravine.”
Sustainable food comes from sustainable farming practices like using petals of chicken manure as a natural fertilizer, rotating crops, and never plowing over crops to leave bare dirt and increase soil erosion.
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Chicken manure is a natural alternative to pesticides.

“Philosophically, I believe in a style of farming that mimics nature,” Davis said. “In nature, growth patterns are healthy and consistent unless something gets seriously out of whack. We try to feed the soil in a healthy way allowing its complex chemical processes, with many bacteria and fungi, to progress unimpeded. We use a well irrigation system and we’re adding pine trees to prevent wind erosion. We believe our methods are beneficial to the land and healthy for the people who eat what we produce.”
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A few chickens live on the farm but livestock hasn’t been introduced yet for food production.

This is his fifth season of farming at Yokna Bottoms; Davis hopes to increase public awareness beyond his loyal CSA members and market customers. He is planning farm tours and has already spoken to Ole Miss campus groups about food sustainability. The farm even gives discounts to students for CSA subscriptions.
“I was brought up in the Mountain West and agriculture has always been part of my life even when I lived in the suburbs,” Davis said. “I believe that respect for the land and for our food sources is one of the most important lessons any of us can leave behind.”
Yokna Bottoms Farm is located eight miles south of Oxford, Miss. near the small community of Yocona. The farm is named after William Faulkner’s fictional county of Yoknapatawpha.
For more information on Yokna Bottoms Farm or if you’re interested in a subscription, go to the farm’s Website at yoknabottoms.com. Or call the farm number at 662-380-2367.
– Andy Knef is Hottytoddy.com editor. Contact Andy about this story at Andy.Knef@HottyToddy.com
 

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