In 2010, Taylor Yowell graduated from Jones County Junior College and was working at a garden center in Hattiesburg when he became interested in learning about organic and healthy foods, as well as how people could access that food. One of his friends also ran an organic vegetable market, which led him to the decision that he wanted to start his own sustainable and organic farm.
After spending two years in California, one year in Virginia, and then another year in north Mississippi learning about organic farming, he came back to his home in Madison County and started a farm in Bolton, MS. In 2016, The Garden Farmacy was born.
“When I began the farm, it was pretty much just a deserted old homestead. The house didn’t have a roof or a back door. So, really the beginnings of the farm were just from scratch. I was just out here trying to turn this place into something where I can start a farm, first off. Then once I got things going, we grew pretty quickly,” said Yowell.
The Garden Farmacy is a 6-acre chemical-free farm that uses sustainable methods to farm organically. Their food crops are raised using hand tools, instead of tools like tractors, without dependence on fossil fuels, and the farm does not use any chemical-based fertilizers, nor do they spray any chemical pesticides.
“We have an extreme emphasis on practicing organically and growing naturally. We don’t spray anything and we’re chemical free. We just really try to apply these practices into what is healthy for the ecosystem and try to be pro-environmentalists and healthy farmers, not only to benefit our ecosystem but also to provide a healthy product that’s locally grown for other Mississippians,” said Yowell.
The Garden Farmacy often attends local farmer’s markets in the metro Jackson area, and they also have a Vegetable Share Program! The Vegetable Share Program gives subscribers a box of vegetables from the farm every week for 10 weeks that are grown, harvested, washed, and delivered by the farm. Their Spring/Summer Vegetable Share has vegetables like spinach, carrots, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more!
“People deserve access to fresh vegetables. Local grown produce is the healthiest produce you can get because it is not harvested and stored and shipped across the country. For us to practice locally and to harvest the day of the deliveries, we’re able to give Mississippians the quality produce that they need to thrive,” said Yowell.
If there was one thing Yowell hopes people would take away from The Garden Farmacy, it would be education and awareness about how healthy eating leads to a healthy life and how the way that peoples’ food is being grown directly affects the environment.
Yowell also wanted to emphasize that sustainable farming is not as easy as it looks, having to deal with unpredictable weather and limited resources.
“The hardest part has really been the weather, ultimately, and also having access to resources about the kind of farming we’re doing. There are a handful of people in the whole state that are practicing this way, and that’s the only resource we have as a farm. It’s very much been a hands-on learning experience, and I’ve had to really depend on what I’ve learned within our location and how to deal with challenges on my own. We need more small organic farmers that can work with each other,” said Yowell.
With The Garden Farmacy, you’re not only getting great organic products, but you’re also supporting a Mississippi business! Supporting local businesses has a direct economic benefit and a direct environmental impact. You’re able to keep more dollars in the local economy and support people that are your neighbors, as well as small businesses that are paying taxes within the state.
“Environmentally, you’re decreasing the amount of time a product has to travel on the road or on the ocean to get to your hands. You’re really decreasing carbon emissions,” said Yowell. “And you’re building a community as well. Once local folks know they can get a certain product that benefits them locally, they’re going to be able to network and see who’s got what product and build a community out of that.”
In your own community, look for CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) around you, like The Garden Farmacy, and make sure to support local businesses whenever you can!