Beginning farmer uses conservation fellowship to better her community

Farm and Food

Although Tricey Chea is relatively new to the world of agriculture, farming has always piqued her interest.

A year ago, she had the opportunity to learn the basics at Big Muddy Urban Farm close to her home in Omaha, Nebraska.

During her time at the farm Tricey discovered the best ways to establish beds, grow her own food, and run a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation. She also sold produce at farmers markets.

Tricey’s interest and growing knowledge of farming led her to apply to the 2022 Center for Rural Affairs Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program, and she was chosen to participate.

The Center recently started this program for beginning farmers and ranchers, like Tricey, who are looking for guidance in implementing conservation programs. During the program, the fellows will complete coursework in conservation programs and practices, climate change adaptation and impacts, racial equity, and leadership.

They will also design and implement a conservation project on their own farms or land they are farming, and present on their findings at the annual Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Conference in February, when the program ends.

“The experience so far has been eye-opening and life-changing for me,” said Tricey. “Since getting more into agriculture I realized that I especially have an interest in growing flowers and herbs. This is why I chose to focus on how I can implement them more for the use of conservation to help enhance the productivity and sustainability of the land and crops grown.”

Another one of Tricey’s passions has been finding ways to help people heal through holistic means. Although she does not have her own farm or land yet, she’s working toward that goal.

In the upcoming growing season, the fledgling farmer plans to raise herbs, flowers, and a small produce garden for herself and her family, and to help fellow community members.

During the summer of 2020, Tricey founded Black Bird Flii, an organization that offers alternative and holistic health services with a mission to help people improve their quality of life. She hopes to use her next harvest in collaboration with Black Bird Flii to make natural remedies and medicinal concoctions to help people with their overall wellness.

Joining the fellowship has allowed Tricey to expand her knowledge of conservation practices, as well as how to use those techniques properly once she is able to obtain her own land.

“I hope to be able to implement conservation practices sooner than later,” she said. “I believe that having a healthy mind, body, and spirit is essential to the overall human experience, and that nature is the best nurturer, playing an unmistakable role in the realms of achievement, vitality, and wellness.”

To learn more about the Center’s Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program, click here. 

Photos submitted by Tricey.