Small Farm Apprentice Program
Recently, we launched our Small Farm Apprenticeship program in the early spring. This 18-month program provides a nurturing and creative working environment. It also entails a culturally competent training, with a tailored learning approach for our apprentice team. Currently, there are three apprentices; Precious Prince, Kelli “KD” Randle, and Myelle Tealer.
This program has two main objectives: to reestablish a sustainable food system in the Utica area, and to support the development of young farmers by teaching them traditional farming techniques.
Some of these techniques are based on African/Black agrarianism. Included are these three components: Mind, Body, and Soul. The “Mind” component consists of classes, readings, and the engagement of study material to ground students in the work. The “Body” component is the practical application of sustainable farming practices. The “Soul” consists of storytelling, reflections, and discussion that culturally connects the apprentices to Black Agrarian tradition and our local community of Utica.
Our Sipp Culture Community farm is a 17 acre parcel of land with approximately 1 acre in production. The farm is a diversified operation that is based on sustainable practices. The farm is on an organic, no-till, bio-intensive system. This farm system encourages growers to disturb the soil as little as possible, increase the soil’s organic matter, rotate crops, compost waste, and diversify their farming operation. The goal of the farm is to have a closed loop system that goes from seed to soil.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”
Precious Prince is originally from Inglewood, California but has been living in Utica,MS for four years. She is a Locke High School graduate, and a part of the trucking industry. Don’t let the size fool you, driving semi-trucks is one of her many skills. This soft spoken “Cali-girl” has become quite the southern girl she never imagined she would become.
Precious enjoys reading, sewing, and being outdoors. She started her own successful garden from youtube tutorials, and our current Farm Manager Robin Carraway. In her first garden, she planted squash, cucumbers, cilantro, strawberries, green onions, tomatoes, and watermelons.
Once these fruits and vegetables were harvested, she passed them out to local members of her community. She takes pride in her work, and is elated to be working with Sipp Culture’s Small Farm Program. It is in alignment with her future goals of owning her own farm for the benefit of herself and those around her.
Kelli “KD” Randle is from Holmes County but raised in Attala County. A Millsaps College graduate with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Psychology, some of their personal interests are thrifting, farming and exploring ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
KD enjoys playing with Rivah, their German Shepherd labrador. KD can score in basketball and also is a great cook in the kitchen. Their favorite dishes to cook are salmon croquette, with rice and biscuits. Some day in hopes of opening a brunch is also included in their favorite things to do.
Recently, KD has had a chance to collaborate with the land and healing. And how things like joyful and wellness intersect with the land, and what healing can come from that.
“Expect the unexpected”
Myelle is originally from Houston Tx, currently residing in Vicksburg, Ms. He is the second from the youngest (“kneebaby”) of four other siblings. They all share the My- prefix in their first names. Myelle is the father of a two month old newborn baby girl named Londyn.
Some of his favorite things to do include playing his ps4, fishing, listening to music, and eating! Myelle finds it interesting that there is a lot of unknown history in farming, and how it is connected with our ancestors and our history.
Myelle has learned resourceful information since he has joined Sipp Culture’s Small Farm Program. The knowledge he is gaining is opening his eyes to a different approach to farming and the food he eats.