Dustin Pinion and Ali Fratesi are the faces behind Beaverdam Fresh Farms. Dustin and Ali both grew up in Indianola, Mississippi with farming families. Dustin started out by growing mixed vegetables with his grandfather as a young kid. He always had a passion for plants, which led him to getting a bachelor’s degree in horticulture at Mississippi State University. After completing his educational internships, he brought his knowledge and passion for restoring land and growing healthy clean foods back to Mississippi, a state who has limited access to healthy local foods.
Ali Fratesi came from generations of farmers and grew up on her dad’s cotton, corn, and soybean farm in Indianola. She received an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture at Mississippi State University. Her graduate studies of Health Promotion at MSU led to her knowledge of community health and the impact that local access to healthy foods has on a community’s physical and economic health.
1. Tell us the history of Beaverdam Fresh Farm.
We have always been passionate about restoring land and the environment. We found that the best farming practices to restore land and feed the community healthy food involved diversifying our farm and using rotational grazing practices. We began doing farm tours, building community gardens, workshops, and asking local schools to visit their farm in order give back to their community.
2. What animals are you raising on the farm? How do you raise them?
We base our farming practices on mimicking natural patterns that build organic matter and preserve the land for future generations.
Our livestock are rotated onto fresh pasture daily (or weekly depending on the animal) in order to spread the manure around the farm and lessen the impact.
Our vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides. By mimicking natural patters, our livestock are healthier; therefore we do not give our livestock any antibiotics, vaccinations, or added hormones.
3. Why do you need a new processing facility?
In Mississippi, farmers are only allowed to process up to 1,000 chickens/turkeys/ducks on their farm without state inspection.
In our fourth year of farming, we are about to go over that 1,000 bird limit. A state approved processing facility allows you to process up to 20,000 birds. It is difficult to afford to build a state approved processing facility when you can only sell 1,000 chickens. The $30,000 will not be enough to pay for the whole facility, but it will get us a great start.
We were also recently forced by our state government to purchase a refrigerated trailer to transport our products, which set us back quite a bit financially. Other states neighboring Mississippi do not require refrigerated vehicles for transporting frozen products.
4. How do your farming practices impact the soil?
We use techniques that mimic natural patterns of animal moving across a landscape. Every farm landscape is different.
As farmers and stewards of our land, it is important that we study the land, and let the animals restore the land by continuously moving them rather than leaving them in one area. This also provides our livestock with a cleaner less stressed environment which in turn gives us a healthier more nutrient dense product and improves the ecosystem over time.
We look at ourselves as soil farmers, with food being a byproduct of our soil building operations. We feel that without healthy soils, you can’t grow healthy plants or animals and without healthy plants or animals you can not have healthy people.
Healthy soil = healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy communities, healthy economies…
5. Where can people find food from Beaverdam Farms?
At Beaverdam Farms, we believe in restoring land through growing healthy food and supporting our community and other local farms. You can visit our website www.beaverdamfreshfarms.com or our facebook page to find out more information.