POTTS CAMP, MS (abc24.com) - He taught cooking and she worked in human resources until both lost their jobs. This Mid-South couple figured out how to turn career endings into new money-making beginnings. Both used their passion for gardening, spending the last year growing that into a business.
Ben and Nichole Dickey live in Memphis. They farm in Mississippi. The couple is growing heirloom vegetables and mushrooms, some the only fresh varieties you can buy locally. They just started selling and find the market for their produce is thriving.
"We're striving to produce 100 pounds a week," Ben says. "If only we could produce as much as there's demand for," laughs Nichole.
The two are new farmers with big plans for the future.
"There's no real local source for mushrooms," Nichole tells abc24.com. "Whenever you buy them in the grocery store they're shipped in from who knows where."
The Dickeys are growing theirs locally on a family farm in Potts Camp, Mississippi. Their new venture is aptly named Dickey Farms Mushrooms & Heirlooms.
"This is all we do every day, grow mushrooms," explains Ben.
They're growing strains you can't find in grocery stores, cultivating almost a dozen different varieties. They include familiar ones like shiitake, while others are more obscure.
"Golden oyster mushrooms, pink oyster mushrooms," lists Ben.
"After losing our jobs we were grasping at straws," says Nichole. "We were really fortunate to have family that's been supportive of us."
They created a grow room and started farming on family land.
The two had help learning the ins and outs of starting a business through an entrepreneur program at the University of Memphis.
"It's no cost. You don't have to be a student at the U of M. They go in and take you step by step by step," Ben explains.
While their farming future looks healthy, the Dickeys want to teach too, sharing skills they've learned with others who are interested.
"From losing our jobs and doing what we've done, it's become so apparent these kinds of things are important," Nichole says.
You can buy their produce on Wednesdays at the Botanic Gardens' Farmers Market. Several local restaurants also serve their mushrooms.
The Dickey's can be reached at (901) 486-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.