“I am a farmer,” is more than likely the first phrase that anyone who meets Dr. Cindy Ayers-Elliott will hear. A graduate of Jackson State University, Ayers-Elliott is the CEO of Foot Print Farms LLC. Established in 2010, her 68-acre operation consists of specialty crops, vegetables, and livestock, and is located in the heart of Jackson, Mississippi. “I do nothing traditional,” says Ayers-Elliott, describing the innovative specialty crops she grows, as well as the advanced farming techniques that she uses. “We look at using technology, innovation, and the available resources in order to grow, supply, and sustain our communities,” she says.
Trading in her designer suits for overalls, Ayers-Elliott’s dream of becoming a farmer didn’t happen overnight. She started off with a small garden where she would grow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and bell peppers; some goats that were good for benefitting the soil and land; and a year’s worth of research. Determined to expand her enterprise, Ayers-Elliott took it upon herself to visit agriculture institutions like Alcorn State University and her local United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA/NRCS) office to learn more about how to successfully manage a farm. Today, she grows an array of natural fruits and vegetables, while also raising goats, chickens, cattle, and horses. Her vivid pink bus, a trademark symbol for Foot Print Farms, is also used to transport goods to various farmers’ markets and pop-up shops throughout the region.