In 2008, Mary Blackmon, an Internet media forerunner and entrepreneur who lived in New York City and Los Angeles inherited her family farm located in the Arkansas Delta ("half in Arkansas and half in Louisiana.") She was faced with a choice to either keep it or sell it. She decided to keep it and work on it. She soon realized just how much work was involved, and started to take it seriously.
"While I was learning how to manage a farm, I saw one thing during this challenging and overwhelming time," says Blackmon. "I saw how passionate and wonderful farmer truly are."
With her new career as a fourth generation landowner/farmer, she noticed there seemed to be a disconnect between farmers and the general public. Wanting to bridge that gap, she used her previous professional background to created Farm Star Living brand that includes a website
and a newly released companion app.
Broken down into three sections, the website's Farm Star
gives a face and a voice to the farmers, says Blackmon.
"They work tirelessly," she says. "This gives them the opportunity to share stories about what they do so others can understand their job better."
Some of the southern farmers currently profiled include one in Oak Ridge, La
., one with Patchwork City Farms
in Atlanta, Ga., and one with Coyote Creek Farm
in Elgin, Texas.
The Farm to Table
section promotes farm-to-table restaurants, and this is one area where the app can come in handy when on to road. It includes profiles, spotlighted recipes, and a peek-look at what's trending in the kitchen of chefs.
"Everyone loves enjoys having a great meal while traveling, and farm-to-table restaurants provide great food that's in season. When you patronize these restaurants you are supporting local communities and farmers."
When it comes to the south, restaurants featured include Parlors Market in Jackson, Miss., The Farmer's Table in Boca Raton, Fla., Husk Restaurant in Charleston, S.C., and Bluegrass Burgers in Louisville, Ky.
highlights the different activities visitors can find on a farm. Locate everything from corn mazes, farmers' markets, farm tours and much more by using the search tools.
"Many people have never visited a farm before, and the site makes it accessible to them," says Blackmon. "They can locate a farm to learn how to milk a cow or go pick strawberries. There are a lot of great things people can do on a farm.
Searching the section as a whole using "Alabama" for the state and leaving the other options as is, it yielded such results as Fairhope Alpacas in Fairhope and Gin House Branch Farm in Decatur.
For those thinking about making a weekend out of their farm visit, check out the lodging search option that offer everything from bed & breakfasts to overnight farm stays to camping/tent sites and more. Using "bed & breakfast" for the search option, the properties for the South included White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Ga., Smithfield Farm Bed & Breakfast in Berryville, Va., and Lillian Farms Bed & Breakfast in Brenham, Texas.
The brand celebrates the American farmer; and shows, according to Blackmon, "everything really does go back to farms."
(photo: Mary Blackmon, courtesy of LMP International)