By Marlene Greer, Correspondent
Cotton may once have been king for seven or so generations of Mitchells, but today, the family farm in Collins thrives on peanuts, corn, wheat, soybeans, and a bit of history and agritainment.
Owners Dennis and Nelda Spell Mitchell, their son Don and his wife Jo Lynn, have turned a portion of the farm into a learning and play zone for kids and families with an animal barn, wagon rides, hay bale maze, sand mountain, rope swings, mini old west town, and corn pool.
There’s a whole lot of running, jumping and rolling going on around the farm, thanks to Jo Lynn’s desire to be with her family.
“I worked as a sales rep and traveled around the state,” Jo Lynn said. “I wanted to come home and work at the farm, but I knew I didn’t want to drive a tractor. I had to find a way for me to work on the farm and make an income for the farm.”
Dennis and Nelda, both from farming families with roots in Mississippi going back to the early 1800s, moved to Collins in 1960 to begin farming. He worked the farm while she taught first grade. Don now manages the farm, but all participate.
Speaking with any member of the family, you come away with how much they love their farm.
“I’ve always wanted to farm since I was 2 years old playing with my tractors in the sandbox,” Don said. “I like the challenge, because most of the time every day is different. There are always hardships with farming, but the challenge keeps you motivated. This is all I know and this is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
In addition to the kids play area, three historic log cabins full of period furnishings, antiques, and Nelda’s beautiful wood carvings and art pieces are open to visitors. The couple have been avid collectors for decades.
“Dennis and I both enjoyed looking at other peoples restored log houses, antiques and things they had preserved,” Nelda said. “It was a fascination for both of us. That got us started trying to preserve what was around us. We just hated to see old things left to deteriorate.”
And of course there’s the farm store, where visitors can purchase fresh sweet corn, peaches, tomatoes, homemade jams and jellies, canned goods and peanuts.
– Mitchell Farms, 650 Leaf River Church Rd., Collins, Miss. Admission $8 weekdays, $10 weekends. For more information, visit www.mitchellfarms-ms.com.