Gardening & Farming

Published on February 24th, 2016 | by TLV News

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Cultivating Crops and Community at Yokna Bottoms Farm and Canebrake Farm

Although Oxford still lies in the chilly grasp of winter, local farmers Doug Davis of Yokna Bottoms Farm and Charlie Dawson of Canebrake Farm are already working hard with spring in mind. For several years, both men have been cultivating all natural heirloom produce with organic farming methods and sharing their love of the land with the surrounding community.

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Doug Davis of Yokna Bottoms Farm. Photographs by Caleb Fisher-Wirth.

One recent brisk, sunny afternoon, we drove over to visit each of their farms. Doug Davis is an Associate Professor in K-12 Leadership at Ole Miss, but has had a life-long involvement with farming and gardening. He moved to Oxford from Atlanta in 2007, seeing an opportunity to fulfill his dream of starting his own farm. Doug gave us a walking tour of the facilities with his friend, local musician Keith Moore, and his dog Merton. He showed us the small walking meditation garden he tends to, the greenhouse, the processing station where produce is washed and refrigerated, and his newly tilled fields already stocked with some early seasonal items.

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Doug enjoying some of his acreage with his trusty dog Merton in the background. Photographs by Caleb Fisher-Wirth.

Doug explained to me that an ecosystem such as a forest is a self-contained system which generates nearly all of the nutrients that it uses to sustain growth, whereas with a farm, “…You’re constantly pulling nutrients out of the ground [in the form of the fruits and vegetables grown.]” This is why good stewardship of the land, and practices such as crop rotation and the planting of nitrogen-fixing cover crops like legumes, are so important. “This is some of the best soil in the country,” Doug told us with a contemplative look as he took up a fresh handful of dirt from his fields and sifted through it appreciatively.

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Charlie and Monica Dawson of Canebrake Farm, and their three children. Photographs by Caleb Fisher-Wirth.

From there, we drove to Canebrake Farms on Highway 334 where Charlie Dawson, his wife Monica, and their three children showed me around. Charlie has been hard at work with his pastures, his chicken coop, and his own already-flourishing greenhouse, which he keeps a balmy temperature with a small wood-burning stove.

His property took a slight cosmetic hit several years ago, when a tornado violently uprooted several of the trees on his, but that has never stopped life from spreading continually at Canebrake Farm.

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Charlie enjoys some early-season carrots – the sweetest and freshest that I had ever tasted. Photographs by Caleb Fisher-Wirth.

Long-time Oxfordians will remember Charlie as the vocalist half of hip-hop duo Stork and Nick B. Charlie, or Stork as his fans know him, still enjoys making music in an upstairs studio-loft, although it’s hard to imagine where he finds the time from the look of his bustling farming operation. He has always had a green thumb, having moved to Oxford to major in biology at Ole Miss in 1998. “I incorporate a lot of my scientific background into my farming practices, like planting companion crops to keep away pests, and digging a natural rainwater irrigation system,” Charlie told me with a look of pride and satisfaction.

After visiting with Doug, Charlie, and their friends and family, and getting treated to tours of their idyllic acreages, we delved into some deeper questions about their creations and the dedication that goes into agricultural production.

 

How to Buy:

 

Canebrake Farm:

CFW_8233_WEB*Season runs from May through November

CSA Membership Options: (price includes weekly delivery on Sundays)

   Full Share (30 weeks): $1,050

  Spring Season (10 weeks): $350

Summer Season (10 weeks): $350

Fall Season (10 weeks): $350

(Also offering partial work shares in an effort to promote sustainable agricultural practices in the community)

 

Yokna Bottoms Farm:

CFW_8213_WEB*Season runs from April through November

CSA Membership Options:

Full Share:

Earlybird Special until 2-28-2016: $600 for new shareholders, $550 for returning shareholders
After 2-28-2016: $650 for new shareholders, $615 for returning shareholders

           Half Share:

Earlybird Special until 2-28-16: $350 for new shareholders, $325 for returning shareholders
After 2-28-2016: $385 for new shareholders, $365 for returning shareholders

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.



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