Doug Davis is a college professor, a farmer, and a self-proclaimed sodbuster.
What's a sodbuster you ask? This is how he explains it in his words:
Sod.bust.ers (n.) Gardeners, farmers, lovers, dreamers, planters, ranchers, builders and breeders, sons and daughters of the soil, pickers and plowers, sowers and growers…
Though Doug has been busting sod since he was young, it wasn't until 2007 that he got the chance to do it on a grander scale. That's the year he purchased some prime bottomland in northern Mississippi hill country and founded Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm.
How did you choose your farm name? Our farm is located near the Yokna River at the site were William Faulkner set the climatic river crossing scene in "As I Lay Dying". It seemed appropriate as Yoknapatapha is the Chickasaw name for the river and Faulkner's name for the county in his fiction.
How did you get into farming? I have gardened since I was four years old and have been involved in some type of gardening or agriculture most of my life. When I was hired by the University of Mississippi in 2007 as a professor of Educational Leadership, I had the opportunity to look for some good farmland and was fortunate to find some prime Bottomland for sale.
Does anyone farm with you? Jeff Stone (Production Manager), Betsy Chapman (Marketing/Community Relations), and Nate Richardson (Permaculture Gardner).
What do you produce? Common and uncommon spring, summer, and fall produce; heirloom varieties of multiple crops. We provide a 130 member CSA (75%), two local farmer's markets, and local restaurants.
Why did you get involved with CNG? We have farmed chemical free since the inception of the farm but USDA certification has never been a viable option for us cost wise. In addition, CNG's supportive and interactive process have been highly educational for us as we have been learning how to grow food naturally. We have learned much from the experienced farmers around us.
Have you wished you hadn’t become a farmer? I have no regrets but I do get tired. It is discouraging when our CSA members are dissatisfied. Some of the days when our farmers and volunteers work the hardest are days that we don't have the quantity and quality we would like.
Talk about the biggest challenge you’ve encountered as a farmer. Keeping everything in balance as we grow. We have had to learn to be much more flexible in dealing with the weather this spring. It was impossible to keep our planting schedule and what we did plant did not thrive in the cool temperatures.
Most unusual farm tool: Ho Mi! A Korean hand tool shaped like a plow blade. Useful for multiple tasks and gentle on the wrists, you use the Ho Mi by locking your wrist and using your shoulder and chest muscles.
What’s your favorite thing to cook at home? A clay pot roast pork loin with fresh onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary, carrots, beets, and potatoes (all from the farm).
What's something you learned the hard way on the farm? Always check the oil.
What advice would you give to a farmer just starting out? Focus on the production of quality produce. Love and appreciate the time you are able to work in the field.
What customer interactions have been rewarding? I always love a good food story
Who are your heroes in the farming world? Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba
What’s your most useful piece of clothing for working on the farm? Overalls-the discovery of overalls significantly improved my comfort level on the farm
If you were magic and could change one thing about our food system, what would it be? I would change our pattern of land ownership. We need thousands of small farmers who own their land.
What plans or hopes do you have for the future? We hope to see the continued growth of our local food system.