A Mississippi State University senior is combining unique course opportunities and farm experience to prepare for a future in agriculture.

Dallas O’Bryant of West Point has owned and operated Double D Farms, a vegetable production farm, on 10 acres of his family’s land in Clay County since 2010. He sells a variety of vegetables, such as onions, cabbage, potatoes, green beans, corn and eggplant, as well as flowers and homemade pasta, directly to consumers at several local farmers’ markets.

To help gain new insight on techniques to improve his business, O’Bryant enrolled in MSU’s new food production course. The course allows students to work on a student-run farm on about 24 acres of the H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center, commonly called South Farm.

O’Bryant said maintaining the student farm is a collaborative effort by classmates. “I may have more experience, but I don’t see a need to lead everything at the student farm. We are a tight group, and the class makes decisions as a group. My expectations for the student farm are that current students will recruit new students each semester, and the farm will be fully functioning in several years.”

O’Bryant tries to find the balance between business and school.

“Being a student, my studies are very important. I try to keep my studies first, but with this being planting season, I’m in a time crunch to get things planted. I have to keep my farm running because it’s my business, but I also make time for the student farm and have really enjoyed helping my classmates make decisions about the farm.”

After graduating from MSU in May with a degree in agribusiness, O’Bryantintends to return to hisfarming operation full time. “When it comes to my long-term goals for agriculture, I plan to feed the Golden Triangle with healthy andnutritious vegetables.”

Kim Morgan, assistant Extension professor of agricultural economics, said O’Bryant participates in the Market Ready Training program designed to assist Mississippi growers who want to sell food products directly to customers. O’Bryant visits Morgan’soffice at least once a week to discuss new business opportunities or look for better ways to position his farm-grown items in the market.

“Dallas is an extremely curious individual with a high level of self-motivation that drives him to find bigger, better, more profitable ways to maximize his farm’s success and, likewise, his customers’ satisfaction levels,” Morgan said.

Morgan said O’Bryant’s ingenuity and drive for success will help him become aleader among local producers. “Dallas is a perfect example of the young entrepreneur who uses his given set of resources to make a good living by providing a healthy product to consumers who want high-quality food from a grower with whom they have a personal relationship. Dallas is well on his way to taking a leadership role among producers in our community.”