The City of Helena-West Helena is located in the Arkansas Delta, where the Mississippi River is the eastern boundary. The area is known as the delta farmland because the landscape is rich and flat.

The Arkansas Delta is one of the six natural regions in Arkansas. Located on the eastern side of the United States, the region has plenty of culture, history, and unique landscapes.

Harvey Williams Jr. and his family have called this area home for many years. Harvey and his wife, Donna, own Delta Dirt Distillery in the Arkansas Delta. The couple and their two sons, Thomas and Donavan, grow their produce and grains in the same community where they also distill authentic spirits. Although this unique process started for Harvey in December 2020, their story goes back many years.

Papa Joe Williams
Referred to as Papa Joe, Joe Williams was the original farmer and sharecropper in the late 1800's of the same land that Delta Dirt now uses to grow sweet potatoes for their vodka
U.D. Williams
U.D. Williams bought the farm out of sharecropping in 1949

The land where the distillery is located has deeper roots than the distillery itself. For four generations, the Williams farmed the ground and made it into what it is today. Harvey’s grandfather, “Papa” Joe Williams, was the family’s patriarch. Papa originally sharecropped the 86 acres in the late 1800s.

In 1949, Papa’s son, U.D. Williams farmed that stretch of land and was able to do something unique. He purchased the farm out of sharecropping with money he made from cotton and homemade moonshine. When Harvey’s dad, Harvey Sr., took over the farming duties, he was faced with trying to make a living farming on relatively few acres. His options were limited, so he used the farm for vegetable production, mainly sweet potatoes.

Harvey Williams, Sr.
As a matter of survival, Harvey Williams, Sr. converted the family farm to produce predominantly vegetables

In 2017, Harvey Jr. took over the farm and reinvented the operation. Harvey talked with his brother, Kennard, and they created vodka from sweet potatoes. It took around three years, but Harvey and his family released Delta Dirt Distillery Sweet Blend Vodka from a unique mix of distilled sweet potatoes and corn.

Harvey decided to use the land for something different this time. He wanted to own a distillery. This meant using the land and producing much more.

Harvey and Donna Williams
Harvey and Donna Williams reinvented a use for their family's farm and created sweet potato vodka grown by them and produced in their distillery, Delta Dirt

Harvey started researching grants to begin his new adventure and started applying for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Produce grant. During this process, he was introduced to Communities Unlimited (CU) Healthy Foods Coordinator Brenda Williams. Brenda introduced Harvey to CUs Entrepreneurship Management Consultant Tracy Cook. Tracy and Harvey worked together to fill out the financial portion of the grant proposal.

“It has been extremely an honor to work with Harvey Williams and his family-owned farm business that has found great success in its value-added products. Delta Dirt Distillery is a small business that is an integral part of the Arkansas Delta community.”

— Brenda Williams, Healthy Foods Coordinator

Brenda Williams

The creation was quickly accepted and won awards in U.S. and international competitions. In April 2021, Delta Dirt Distillery had a grand opening ceremony to open the distillery and tasting room for the public. In November 2021, the distillery started statewide distribution in Arkansas. In 2023, Delta Dirt Distillery began to make its products available in Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

Harvey has plans to distribute his product in California, Florida, Illinois, and New York soon. He defines his success as selling a product outside of Arkansas and being a catalyst for his hometown of Helena.

Harvey said his father was his inspiration. Although health issues prevented his father from making it to the grand opening, he is grateful that Harvey Sr. was there to witness his dream take shape and see the final product in person.

Harvey is grateful for many things, and being from the Delta is at the top.

Harvey Williams, Jr.

"The story goes beyond the Delta. Creating a product that is in demand and exposing it to as many people in the United States and beyond makes me proud"

— Harvey Williams, Jr., Co-Founder & CEO Delta Dirt Distillery

Williams Family outside Delta Dirt Distillery
Harvey and Donna Williams, Co-Founders of Delta Dirt Distillery, pose with their sons Thomas (R), Head Distiller, and Donovan (L), Operations Manager outside their distillery in Helena, AR