Patrice O’Brien and her sister Joy Swearengen own Twin Oaks Farm. Twin Oaks Farm is nestled in Mississippi’s northern hill country along the banks of Tillatoba Creek fifteen miles east of Charleston where the hills melt into the Mississippi Delta. This rich land has belonged to the Swearengen family for over 183 years.
Patrice’s father was a row crop farmer and reared cattle, as his father was before him. After his passing, Patrice and her siblings were established in their careers and families so they rented the row crop land, sold the cows and converted the pastureland into timberland.
Patrice’s father raised her to see that caring for the land is a gift. He said “We are the stewards of this land and we must take of it so we can pass it on to the next generation in a better condition than we received it” – something Patrice took to heart and believes in.
“I love the farm, because my father loved it before me”
Patrice retired from AT&T in 1998 after working for 25 years in a technical sales management position. She was able to focus more on the land in her retirement and embarked on a 4 year battle to find a solution for creek bank erosion that had led to a loss of 10 acres of their property and was caused 50 years prior by the Highway Department of Engineer’s decision to dredge the creek under highway bridges. In 2005 Patrice purchased an additional 275 acres of forestland adjacent to her family’s current property.
“In the spring of 1984, we became tree farmers in the truest sense.”
Patrice loves to showcase her tree farm by hosting multiple landowner field days, and she is active in all aspects of land and timber management of Twin Oaks Farm. She is always willing to try new applications, techniques, and market opportunities.
“One lesson I have learned from my experience as a forest landowner is that life is short and we are handed the baton of 'property ownership' only for a brief time. During this period, we must meet our responsibility to be good stewards while simultaneously working on a plan to ensure success for the next generation.”