Growing the Mississippi Delta from the Ground Up: Robbie’s Story

Photo of Robbie Pollard from the MS Delta Robbie Pollard, a Mississippi native, started gardening in 2012 after feeling burnt out from a long career in IT. “Leaving IT brought me back to agriculture, to the land, and to myself,” said Robbie. “My grandfather was a farmer and that’s where I started my first raised bed and garden on my family’s property.”

After attending different farming workshops, networking with older farmers and folks from the Alcorn Extension Program, and watching YouTube farming videos, Robbie taught himself how to farm sustainably in just a few short years.

In 2014, Robbie started the Happy Foods Project, a healthy food initiative that’s part of his farm, Start 2 Finish, Inc. The Happy Foods Project started out as a healthy food truck that delivered fresh food like salads, fruit cups, and wraps to areas in the Mississippi Delta that didn’t have access to healthy food but has grown to be so much more.

Through the Happy Foods Project, Robbie is working hand in hand with other farmers and providing them with some of the resources they need to have a successful farming career like seeds and equipment. They are even starting their own brand called Harvest of the Delta where they are working cooperatively to sell their produce.

Robbie Pollard at his farm in the MS Delta In addition to his work with other farmers, Robbie is working with youth to show them that farming can be a viable career through farm visits, farm-to-school programs, and farm-to-early childhood initiatives.

“We’re building equity in the Delta by building up farmers and working with youth on our farm in the summertime,” said Robbie. “We’re training them up and showing them that you can make a viable living by growing food or having something to do with food. You might not want to grow it, but you can also operate a health food truck, you could do a mobile farmers market, or you could take produce and sell it at the farmers market.”

Robbie wants to get back to the basics and show people that you can make a significant impact on your community by learning about food, growing it, and creating access to it.

“Everybody deserves to have access to good food no matter where you are or who you are, but in the Delta a lot of times that’s not an option,” said Robbie. “Around here, you have so many small towns that don’t have grocery stores or cars to get you to the grocery store. It can feel overwhelming so that’s why we need to keep pushing for access in those areas.”

Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is working with stakeholders like Robbie in the Mississippi Delta to increase the affordability, accessibility, and visibility of fruit and vegetables through community-centered change.

Robbie’s story is part of an ongoing series about all the great work that’s happening in the Mississippi Delta to build health equity.

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