The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

MarDoug Farms and Farm Star Living

MarDoug Farms and Farm Star Living

From the Farmer's Tractor

November 26, 2014

Mary Blackmon created Farm Star Living, a website to showcase farmers and their interesting, insightful perspectives as well as to make the world of farming more accessible to the public. Farm Star Living and its app has the first Farm to Table Finder, helping people find local-sourced restaurants across the country, and a Farm Fun Finder, which lists farms and activities for families to enjoy. Blackmon is also a third generation farmer and owner of MarDoug Farms, a rice farm that spans parts of Jones, Lousiana and the Arkansas Delta.

How did you get into farming?

I took over my family farm in 2009. Before that, my great-grandfather (4th generation) owned a tree farm. My grandfather converted it into a rice farm in the late 1950's. 

How have your farming practices changed over the last 10 years? 

We are rotating crops on a 5-year cycle and enriching the soil with nutrients. I've implemented conservation programs to help our natural resources and the environment. It means a lot to me and the future of not only my farm, but the planet. 

How will farming evolve in the next five years? 

Weather conditions make everything more erratic.

What is your greatest challenge as a farmer? 

Broken down tractors or parts can throw the whole system into chaos – and the weather. Those are typically unforeseen things that can happen at any moment and put the whole system into a logjam.

How does a farmer know what a retailer will want a year from now? 

You farm what you want to farm, what's good for you to farm, and/or you can also look at the commodity prices and see what is going to be in demand. Sometimes it won't make sense to farm a particular crop, because it just won't pay for itself. 

What steps are you taking toward conservation on the farm? 

We are doing many thing like soil preservation, wildlife preservation, large buffering zones for conserving water, leveling land to conserve water, and improving irrigation systems. We use as much natural water as possible, versus well water. Our wells are also ready to go when needed. 

What kinds of reactions do you get from consumers when they meet you in person? 

You don't look like a farmer! And that's why I launched Farm Star Living, to showcase farmers and the world of farming in a way that is exciting, entertaining and more accessible. To break the molds of what people might think of farmers and let people see who farmers really are – all types! 

Can you tell us more about Farm Star Living?

After spending time on the farm and with these inspiring farmers, I felt compelled to create a new business to celebrate farmers and the world of farming – but in a fun, exciting and entertaining way as I have experienced it! We also support the local farmer and have a Farm to Table guide for restaurants all across the USA! We showcase a healthy food section via our A-Z Farm Food Guide, as well as interviews with chefs, recipes and blogs. The whole site is designed to bring more people into this world so that they cannot only better understand the world of farming, but get involved with it, too! Our free Farm Star Living app has ways you can find farm to table restaurants as well as farms near you, too. 

It's so fun and easy to use, and we'd love people to come visit the site, sign up for our e-newsletter and download the free app. Everything is created to support the farmer – all types, and we don't charge farms or the restaurants to participate. It's a free service to support farmers, farms and the restaurants that actively support them, too. It's my way of giving back to the people that give us so much, and feed not only the USA, but also the world!