From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
Too many times we take agriculture for granted; forgetting to be thankful for the men and women who produce the food and fiber we all enjoy and depend on.
I was blessed recently to be able to say “Thank you” to a family that has been farming since 1975 – the Vick family of Wilson. The Vicks were honored as the 2009 State Conservation Farm Family of the Year by the N.C. Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts.
Jerome and Diane Vick started farming with just 28 acres and have grown the farm into a 5,100-acre operation. Today they produce tobacco, cotton, sweet potatoes, wheat, soybeans and corn. They also manage about 1,500 acres of woodland.
In consultation with the local soil and water district, the Vicks employ a variety of best management practices on both the land they own and the property they lease. Sunflowers are planted in truck rows in tobacco fields to reduce the chance of soil erosion. Cover crops are planted after sweet potato harvest, and they grow no-till cotton and soybeans.
I am fortunate to have been friends with this family for many years, and I can tell you they are certainly worthy of this distinguished honor. The Vicks are hardworking folks who have passed on their love and care for the land to their children.
This is the type of farm I could see being in business 100 years from now. They know how important the land and water are, and they don’t just employ conservation practices because there is a program. They do it because they depend on the land and water and want to leave it in good shape for the next generation. They understand there is a long-term reward in their stewardship.
In the program for the award ceremony, Jerome Vick is quoted as saying, “No one actually owns the land; we are just put here to protect it until the next generation comes along.”
For the Vicks, the next generation – son Linwood and daughter Charlotte – is already hard at work on the farm, learning valuable lessons and skills at their parent’s side. These are lessons that seem to be paying off in big ways, because both children have already distinguished themselves as young farm leaders.
Linwood, who manages all the cropland for the farm, was the Outstanding Young Farmer for the State of North Carolina in 2004. Charlotte, who is the office manager and keeps track of all federal farm rules, was named National Outstanding Young Farmer in 2008.
I have said before, it is important for future generations to take an interest in agriculture, and both of these young people are excellent examples of the future of agriculture in this state. I wouldn’t be surprised if their own children were involved in agriculture, too.
The Vicks’ environmental stewardship doesn’t just stop with their own efforts. For the past 10 years, the family has opened the farm to local 4-H, civic and church groups for educational activities focused on the environment. Fertilizer and ag chemical companies have also used the farm for demonstrations and workshops.
The Vicks have every reason to be proud of their farm and their accomplishments. When you see people win awards like this one, you can be assured their love of the land comes from the heart. Congratulations to the Vicks.