Francis Flowers & Herb Farm: A Grandmother’s Legacy
Each month, MSAN will highlight one of the many hard-working producers here in Mississippi making a difference in their communities by committing to natural, sustainable, and regenerative models of agriculture. It’s not just about good food; it’s about good people.
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While most of us know by now that cooking food sustainably-grown, organic, and local is just plain better for everyone, we often overlook the fact that we tend to season our food with spices that are not. Furthermore, we know we feel better when we eat this food, but still rely on chemical companies to provide us with medicines, household cleaners, and yes, seasonings too. For instance, most of our seasoning blends contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG. Interestingly enough, Ajinomoto, which is now the world’s largest producer of MSG, is also a drug manufacturer. Thus, while most of us willingly concede that our food should come from naturally grown, local sources, we often miss another part of that picture – that our seasonings and medicines should be produced in a similar manner so that we can maximize our benefits of these as well.
Earcine Evans and her husband Mark are a couple of incredible people who see and understand the bigger picture first hand and are doing all they can to help the rest of us come into focus. After falling ill while owning and operating a beauty salon in California due to the toxic levels of exposure to the chemicals she was working with, Earcine realized something had to drastically change. She realized that the only way to live healthily was to live naturally. Thus, she began to learn and incorporate the healing power of nature into her own life with the help of several herbalists and holistic practitioners. Following this path eventually brought her back the land in Mississippi that had been farmed by her family for over 150 years. Here, generations grew cotton, flowers, and herbs. Her grandmother, and the farm’s namesake, Francis, was also the local midwife, herbalist, and prize winning gardener. Reconnecting to the land reconnected Francis with not only her family but her health.
She and Mark take joy in farming the land in the way of her ancestors: without chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. Their goal: “heal the land that feeds you and that land will take care of you.” To do this, Earcine and Mark use sustainable, biodynamic practices, working in harmony with nature. While they are not afraid of the hard toil this type of farming entails, they also practice the adage “work smarter, not harder”. Thus, they use innovative techniques and products to help them accomplish their mission. The combination of Earcine’s adept determination and enthusiasm along with Mark’s background as a research scientist with NASA allows for a beautiful synergy of the old with the new. Together, they are brining sustainable farming to the next generation through education, value added products, and global outreach.
Following her grandmother’s wisdom, “that the best way to take care of one’s body is to eat garden fresh food and use herbal medicine- inside and outside the body,” Earcine has created a line of value added products, Cine All Natural Hair and Skin Care, that are appropriate for all types of hair and skin. She uses both wild crafted and cultivated herbs and flowers which are “energy tested to ensure their strength and life-giving sustenance to restore the health of the hair and skin” to accomplish her mission of “empowering people to honor their soul, mind, and body through the use of our healing products.” Furthermore, Earcine incorporates Ecocert Shea butter into her products which she sources from a fair trade, organic, women’s cooperative in Africa, thus making her impact not just local, but global. It is the global crisis that Earcine and Mark are focusing their efforts. They have witnessed first hand the repercussions of our industrialized agriculture and health systems and are doing all they can to help teach and reach the youth of our world that there is a better way. They firmly believe that the health and sustainability of the human race lies in the powerful hands of current and future responsible farmers.
While it has taken them decades to understand, learn, and implement the lessons of their ancestors, Mark and Earcine will continue feed and heal us using their role as stewards, teachers, pioneers, and innovators. For her efforts, Earcine was named the 2010 Woman of Business of the Year by Alcorn State and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Her articles have also been published in nationally distributed magazines including Southern Living. One can’t help but feel that her grandmother, Francis would be extremely proud of her granddaughter. With the help Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network, Francis’s legacy will continue to bloom.
Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm, though not certified Organic, is Certified Naturally Grown and Demeter certified. In addition to a stand on the farm, it is open for “pick your own produce”. Their biodynamically grown fresh herbs, potted herbs, cut flowers, vegetables, Cine Hair and Skin products, and other items can also be found at Rainbow Coop and the Jackson Farmer’s Market.
By Shaundi Wall, MSAN Outreach Coordinator
Photos by Danny Klimetz