June 19, 2021 – Issue 577

Christi Nickey

From Chef to Farmer

MIU student Christi Nickey grew up in a small farming community in Indiana, where her grandparents and parents farmed the same land. When she was in high school her family moved to Florida, where she attended culinary school and worked as a chef in Palm Beach County.

When a series of hurricanes struck the Florida coast in 2003 and 2004, Christi and her parents decided to move to safer and more sustainable grounds. They bought a farm in South Carolina, where Christi worked while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Clemson University.

After graduating, she moved to Colorado Springs to work as a chef. When the COVID pandemic hit last March, Christi and her partner, who is also a chef, both lost their jobs.

Working as a chef in Florida

Christi decided to return to school and study organic, sustainable agriculture. She looked for programs online and found MIU’s Regenerative Organic Agriculture Program. After visiting and taking an online course last spring, they moved to Fairfield and she enrolled at MIU.

Christi enjoys the hands-on experience of the program and the safe, friendly atmosphere of Fairfield, which reminds her of her hometown. Christi says learning the Transcendental Meditation® technique was the right next step to take, along with returning to farming.

Tending the goats on the family farm

“I feel more confident now that I am making the right decisions,” she said. “When you are on the right path, you know it. Practicing TM has increased that feeling of being on the right path, and making good choices is easier.”

While attending school and raising her three children, Christi also took a staff position with the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) as farm and food coordinator for Fairfield. As part of a new SILT campaign called Circle Our Cities, she is working to protect land for sustainable food production on local farms around Fairfield during this year, with the ultimate goal of surrounding ten Iowa cities with ten permanent food farms in ten years. “I am passionate about farmers, protecting land and biodiversity, and making great food,” she said.

After graduation, Christi would like to stay around Fairfield and start a permaculture-style farm.