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Hearin Foundation Provides $2M Grant, Architectural Firm Selected
Greenfield Farm will be a retreat-style writers compound built on 20.4-acres between Oxford and New Albany, Mississippi.

The national award-winning firm Marlon Blackwell Architects (MBA) of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been selected to design the Greenfield Farm Writers Residency at the University of Mississippi. The project recently received a $2 million grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation.

Greenfield Farm will be a retreat-style writers compound built on a 20.4-acre farm between Oxford and New Albany, Mississippi, once owned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner and now by the university. With the $2 million grant, a total of $4.6 million is in place for the project through private support and university-committed funds.

Each year, Greenfield Farm is projected to nurture 50-60 writers who have ties to Mississippi. Writers will stay an average of two to three weeks at no charge and stipends of $1,000 per week will be awarded to those utilizing the overnight studios.

After thoughtful review and diligence, including the commitment to collaborate with other state institutions, the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson, Mississippi, granted key startup support for operations and writer stipends.

“We invested these funds so Greenfield Farm can steward excellent writers and writers who demonstrate the potential to be excellent,” said Matt Holleman, a Hearin Support Foundation trustee. “The Foundation recognizes that Greenfield Farm will design and execute arts programming that will have an economic and transformative impact on our state. The Foundation strongly encourages others to join the various entities working to make this effort a tremendous success for Mississippi.”

John T Edge, developer of the Greenfield Farm Writers Residency and director of the Mississippi Lab, expressed gratitude to the Hearin Support Foundation.

“This is a visionary investment in the work of writers who live in Mississippi or take inspiration from Mississippi. Thanks to the Hearin Foundation, Greenfield Farm will serve the state as a humanities laboratory, where we will both steward current residents and welcome home creative expatriates who want to do bold work,” he said.

Set to open in 2026, the Greenfield Farm campus will be designed by MBA, including four studios and a gathering pavilion with the Julia Evans Reed Kitchen at its heart. The campus will also feature a restored farm shed and the late writer Rev. Will D. Campbell’s relocated cabin.

Walking trails and communal spaces will connect writers to the natural world. Exhibits will tell the story of this land and the people who worked it, beginning with the Chickasaw, including the McJunkins family who worked the land and concluding with Faulkner.

“We are honored to be chosen for such an amazing opportunity and look forward to contributing to transforming Greenfield Farm into a place of possibilities and wonder, supporting the goal to set the national standard for investment in cultural production and the creative economy,” said Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, design principal. “This visionary project will transform William Faulkner’s property into a ‘front porch for the South,’ supporting writers with roots in Mississippi, especially those whose roots may have been torn by racial and economic pressures.”

MBA specializes in award-winning design, having won numerous national honors from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), including awards for architecture, interior design, and urban and regional planning — culminating in Marlon’s 2020 AIA Gold Medal.

Edge said he is pleased to have MBA chosen for the project’s design and approved by the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning trustees.

“Marlon Blackwell Architects knows universities. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Marlon Blackwell serves the University of Arkansas as the E. Fay Jones Distinguished Professor. The firm also knows residencies. One of its architects was the project manager and lead designer for the Loghaven Artist Residency in Knoxville, Tennessee, our aesthetic and operational lodestar for this project,” Edge said.

“Last, they know Mississippi. Their landscape team lives and works here, including Susan Haltom who led Eudora Welty’s garden restoration in Jackson. Our architecture jury — UM professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil, myself, and two Facilities Planning colleagues — is thrilled to know that MBA is at work.”

“I appreciate the commitment and careful consideration by the committee to select the firm to design Greenfield Farm,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This project and facility connect us to the literary past of Mississippi, and it will connect our university and state to literary works of the future. MBA is the ideal group of professionals to recognize its significance and value and reflect that in its design.”

MBA has been the architect for nationally recognized outdoor spaces and campus projects including the Indianapolis Museum of Art Visitors Pavilion, the Thaden School in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the Commons at Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. Among MBA designs near Oxford is the Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mississippians collaborating with MBA on the Greenfield Farm project include:

  • Susan Haltom, who worked for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as curator of exhibits and later as garden restoration curator for the Eudora Welty garden. Haltom will be the project’s landscape historian.
  • Robert Poore, FASLA, of Flora Mississippi, founder of the firm Native Habitats and frequent collaborator with noted Mississippi landscape architect Ed Blake. Poore has devoted his career to careful observation and recording of Mississippi’s natural habitats to create imaginative, wonderfully functional and delightful sustainable designs.
  • Bob Brzuszek, recently retired from Mississippi State University, who has worked on various projects including the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. Brzuszek will serve as the ecological consultant for the project.

“The University of Mississippi will leverage the cultural and literary legacy of this land to cultivate and connect a new generation of writers, students, thinkers and change-makers,” said Edge. “Greenfield Farm will focus on the future, as Mississippi’s first significant infrastructure investment in contemporary writers.”

For more information about supporting the Greenfield Farm Writers Residency, contact John T Edge, developer and director, at or 662-715-9046.

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development


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