Their parents, Van and Dorothy, started Two Dog Farms five years ago, and surprised even themselves at how quickly they turned a profit. In less than two years, Van was able to quit his day job to focus solely on growing and nurturing his dream. They started with just one acre, and now their 30 or so crops are harvested across 15 to 20 acres each season, with room to expand.
Van, 32, was working as an environmental consultant when he decided to try something different. Being confined to a desk and chair all day and not getting any fresh air had taken a toll on him.
"I couldn't take it anymore. I always had a passion for growing my own food. I had a dream that my kids would have a big garden, and maybe have a little farm in the back of my head," he said.
The Killens attribute a big part of their success to two simple factors: a lot of people wanted to support local agriculture, and there weren't a lot of farmers in the area marketing via social media. Those efforts also reach beyond the Jackson, Miss., metro area to New Orleans, LA., where they do direct deliveries twice a week to about 60 restaurants, markets, and small retail locations. In all, they've worked with approximately 115 chefs in the Crescent City.
In addition to traditional clients, the first-generation farmers are passionate about community-supported agriculture. "The CSA is like an investment into the farm," Van explains. "In the beginning of the spring and summer seasons, investors pay $30 a week for about 12 weeks. People who are really into local food pay us to grow food for them, like a gym membership. It helps us because instead of going into the bank to borrow money like a lot of farmers do, the members are our investors. They invest in us, and we grow food for them. We usually grow for 100 to 150 people per season, and we're trying to expand."