As we pulled into Arkansas we were excited to continue our journey in the rural south. We were headed for the Natural State's town of Proctor to meet with Brandon Pugh of Delta Sol Farm.
After exiting the interstate the winding country road we followed to Proctor was completely surrounded on all sides by 1,000s of acres as far as the eye could see of fields of rice, cotton, and soybeans. We saw cropdusters flying low and dropping dust clouds onto seemingly endless fields of moncultured food.
Meet Brandon Pugh and his dog goose. Brandon is a gay farmer growing organic flowers and veggies for market and CSA on 3 acres of his family's land. He grew up in Proctor and comes from a family of conventional farmers. His brother and father farm in the area conventionally, and despite the prevalence of mainstream agriculture there Brandon has resisted using chemicals in his fields, even though he has wanted to- as he told us the Arkansas heat makes the weeds grow incredibly fast.
Delta Sol Farm lies amongst fields of soybeans which you can see beginning in the distance. Brandon told us a story about hand weeding carrots in end of his field which borders with a neighboring soybean farmer and having the cropduster drop fungicide on him.
Much of Proctor looks like this.
Brandon's fridge looks like this. Note the amazing tribute to Cher and Madonna. Brandon was our gracious host for our evening in Proctor and we got to chat about his deep love for Madonna and dancing to her songs in the field. While Brandon did grow up in Proctor, he found his organic farming roots in California- he is a graduate of the well respected Farm and Garden program at the University of Santa Cruz and ran Sol Food farm in Sonoma County before deciding to move back to Arkansas to start Delta Sol. Brandon said that he is out to his family and greater community and has experienced very little discrimination based on being gay. A greater struggle for him seemed to be meeting other like minded gay men in his area.
Brandon sells veggies and flowers at 2 markets in nearby Memphis, Tennessee. Brandon told us about his idea for making t-shirts for Delta Sol farm that instead of the John Deer deer, have a unicorn instead and said that his farm is for sure a "safe space for unicorns..."
His beautiful stand full of produce that is...
c e r t i f i e d f a b u l o u s ! ! !
The Saturday market where Brandon sells is in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church. Check out their flag- bike repair!
Thank you Brandon for giving us a great reason to visit Arkansas.