Wednesday, May 22

Sustainable South: Leann Hines

Leann holding a chick. Photo by Amy Evans.
In 2011 Amy Evans, the SFA’s lead oral historian, conducted an oral history project on the Downtown Greenwood, MS Farmers’ Market. One farmer, Leann Hines of Levee Run Farm, told us the story of farming in the area. As the Farmers’ Market, established in 2008, nourished economic recovery in downtown Greenwood, it planted seeds of inspiration in Hines’s own recovery from a debilitating illness. 

“They said, ‘Oh, well you’ve got a virus.’ Well, yeah, I had the virus to end all viruses. The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t move anything but my left hand, my left arm. And so and I have not been able to walk since then. That was 2007. As it turned out, they finally got a diagnosis of West Nile Virus Polio, and it’s a demyelinating disease.”

What began as an activity to get her out of the house proved to be a source of both income and personal satisfaction. In response to Greenwood’s demand for fresh eggs, Hines, formerly a labor and delivery nurse, bought her first chicks in March of 2009. “I mean, we’re in the Delta and we’re still a farming and agriculture community and for nobody to offer any produce or eggs, I just thought was awful.” Now, shoppers and restaurants across North Mississippi seek her products, from chicken, duck, goose, and quail eggs to mesclun baby greens, figs, blackberries, and cut flowers.

We caught up with Hines this week at the new Oxford City Farmers’ Market. “The goose eggs are a fun product to sell,” she says, adding that the duck eggs are also becoming popular with market customers. For those wanting to try something new, Hines reveals that quail eggs are the perfect size to fry and top a sausage patty on a hot homemade biscuit.

Hines points out that very few people today realize the work involved in raising animals or vegetables for food. “But there is hope!” she adds. “Farmers’ markets are so important for promoting community, healthy eating, exercise, animal welfare, and entrepreneurship.” There is a "long row to hoe" to make our state healthier, she says, but farmers’ markets are providing a variety of fresh foods that cannot be found in many grocery stores.

“One of the greatest things that you can do in a community is have a Farmers’ Market, not just from the financial point of view but for, you know, building community, getting out—everybody seeing what’s going on, exchanging ideas.”

To read more about Hines’s story, visit our Oral History Index. To learn more about becoming a vendor at Oxford City Market, click here.

Emilie Dayan, our office intern/assistant/chief collaborator, blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.