He was a instructor, and he or she labored in retail – then Schuyler and Jane Oliver Dickson moved to rural Chickasaw County to start out afresh in pursuit of a wholesome life, wholesome soil and wholesome meals.
To get to Alali Farms, vacationers may drive south on Freeway 15, after which swing onto a again highway. The pavement quickly offers out and an indication warns, “Street topic to flooding.”
Press on just a bit additional down the dusty coloured means and earlier than lengthy a couple of homes, a barn, and rows of greenhouses and raised beds will emerge into view.
That is the place Schuyler and Jane Oliver Dickson now name dwelling, with their twin daughters Dot and Aila.
It’s a small farm constructed out of massive concepts.
“I knew I needed to produce one thing of worth to the group, and I knew I needed to create one thing stunning, and this type of simply appeared,” Schuyler Dickson mentioned. “It simply occurred. I can’t actually take credit score. One step follows one other.”
On a current day at Alali Farm, a trio of guineas squawked. Strolling between raised beds on one facet and a cattle panel bent right into a curved trellis grown thickly with swelling beans on the opposite facet, Dickson recalled a couple of of these steps that introduced him right here.
In a earlier life, not that way back, the couple lived in Canton, close to the state’s capital metropolis. They have been again in Mississippi after time away in Chicago, the place Schuyler Dickson pursued a grasp’s diploma in inventive writing. He dreamed of penning novels and instructing within the heady setting of a college.
Schuyler Dickson nonetheless writes novels and brief tales, arising early within the morning to take action. However fairly than a college cloister, he works in what quantities to a treehouse on stilts, his “writing cabin” as he calls it, no less than till the 1-year-old ladies get a bit of older and eye it for themselves.
A number of years in the past, this was unimaginable.
“We moved again to Mississippi simply to determine issues out and end my ebook,” Dickson mentioned. “A farm was nowhere close to any of that.”
And it stayed that means for a couple of years, with Schuyler Dickson instructing superior English programs at first one personal college and later one other.
When kids entered the image, twin ladies born within the fall of 2018, the cracks of typical expectations widened for the Dicksons. The couple spent a lot of the day aside, working two totally different jobs, and one particular person’s pay was nearly solely wanted to cowl daycare for 2 infants.
“It fragments your life right into a 100 totally different items,” Dickson mentioned of the way in which he discovered himself dwelling. “I needed all of these issues to only shrink into one unified life.”
And so, the Dicksons moved to a farm they present in Northeast Mississippi. They’ve been settled there over a yr now, their means of working knowledgeable by their dedication to sustainable, regenerative agriculture.
What they’re chasing is a extra holistic way of life woven right into a extra holistic means of manufacturing and distributing meals – native folks rising meals for native folks, and rising it in a means that enriches the soil and native ecosystems, fairly than depleting them.
Alali Farm is licensed naturally grown, utilizing no pesticides or chemical substances. They could finally search natural certification, however the course of is arduous.
With no agricultural background, the couple first realized the fundamentals of farming from on-line movies, books and, in the end, the strict, demanding instructor of expertise. Alongside the way in which, they’ve endured their share of calamities, together with the lack of a fall crop final yr to bug infestation. Then the pandemic upended their unique plans for this yr.
However that changed into its personal sort of benefit.
“The plan was to do farmers’ markets, after which the pandemic hit, and we simply didn’t really feel comfy with farmers’ markets,” Schuyler Dickson mentioned. “Then after we shifted to CSA and supply and on-line gross sales, it blew up.”
Jane Oliver Dickson took the usually grim temper of the yr as a possibility to embrace her curiosity in floral preparations. In every week’s share of the farm’s group supported agriculture program, she included a bouquet grown and assembled on the farm.
“Folks want one thing cheerful proper now,” she mentioned.
The summer time CSA program is at an finish, and preparation is true now underway for the autumn program which can run from October via November. Past that, there can be winter greenery and wreaths on provide.
And like a plant rising from small beginnings into its full kind, the Dicksons discover their present path – pitfalls and all – to be one among discovery about each themselves and the world round them.
“Jane I simply sat down after we talked about having children, and requested, what do we would like our life seem like?” Schuyler Dickson mentioned. “Upon investigation I came upon that I’d made numerous these non-decisions the place I’d simply fallen into issues. It made me begin to examine. What’s true and what’s not? And what’s value pursuing and what’s not?”