In this episode, Matt sits down with Harvey Williams, Co-Founder and CEO of Delta Dirt Distillery in Helena, Arkansas. Delta Dirt Distillery is the only black-owned farm-to-bottled distillery in the United States, and is a family-owned craft distillery, producing high-quality vodka out of sweet potatoes grown on the Williams family farm.
Harvey grew up working on his family farm in Helena. He married his high school sweetheart, Donna, who now serves as Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at Delta Dirt. After several years doing a variety of jobs across the country, Harvey and Donna moved back home to raise their two children at the family farm. (Their sons, Thomas and Donavan now work alongside their parents at the distillery, serving as Head Distiller and Operations Manager, respectively.)
The family farm has been in operation since the late 1800s, when Harvey’s grandfather purchased the land on which he had been sharecropping. When Harvey Sr. inherited the land from his father, he was faced with the difficult reality that the relatively small acreage wasn’t enough to sustain traditional row crop farming. Instead, he decided to diversify the operation, reinventing the farm for vegetable production, mainly sweet potatoes, and soon began shipping out for national distribution.
As a continuation of that ingenuity, Harvey Jr., along with his brother Kennard, decided to reinvent the farm once again in 2017, experimenting with crafting vodka from their sweet potatoes. After many years and plenty of trial and error, Delta Dirt Distillery was born. Today, it offers award-winning spirits including both vodka and gin, available in retail stores across six states across the South and shipping nationwide. The family also operates a tasting room with a variety of specialty cocktails imbued with their products.
In their conversation, Matt and Harvey discuss the family’s legacy with farming and entrepreneurship, the innovative ways they have overcome unexpected challenges, how their tasting room has fostered community, and the advice Harvey has for other small business owners.
Lastly, in Matt's intro, he references data from the Black Farmers' Network, founded by Dr. Veronica Womack of Georgia College. Click here to learn more about the Black Farmers' Network.
Further Reading: Learn about Delta Dirt Distillery | Follow Delta Dirt Distillery on Instagram | Learn about Main Street Helena | Learn about Main Street Arkansas