Returning to the land: Mississippi edition

Érica Hensley and Teresa Ervin-Springs:

The farm had been in Kevin’s family for four generations; it’s a place he visited as a child, but he hadn’t exactly picked up the skills to be a farmer.

In June of 2016, as Kevin’s mother’s health failed, she transferred the property deed to him, as no other family members wanted anything to do with it. On a trip to the property soon after, Kevin and Teresa saw why. Everything on the grounds needed fixing: the grass was nearly 4-feet tall; there were two year’s worth of leaves piled up; and the house was in disrepair. The couple looked around and saw overgrown trees and broken windows. That night, the bugs were so loud Teresa called them “terrifying.”

“We were happier leaving than coming,” Kevin said. Though she never said why, Kevin’s mother still entrusted him with the deed despite no experience, or interest, in farming.

For the first six months, the couple toiled over what to do with the property. They considered selling it, but the land, and obligation to care for it, kept tugging at them.

They decided to make one more trip back, once the shock wore off, and something about the land—and more importantly, in them—shifted. Touring the tract with a forrester who taught them about native flora and fauna, the Springses witnessed what they couldn’t see the first time.

To prepare for life as farmers, they spent long hours on YouTube, read books, and attended food safety and farming conferences—in addition to countless field days and workshops focused on sustainable farming practices. They planned to take on this unknown territory one 100 x 100 foot plot at a time.

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