Today's feature we hear from Trevor Smith of Georgia. He is doing what he loves - farming and raising his family!
Greetings from the Deep South! Our farm is tucked away right in the center of south Georgia, about 15 miles north of Douglas. Tobacco was king here until the '90s, and at one time Douglas had the largest tobacco market in the state of Georgia. Times have changed however, and though there is still some tobacco grown in our area. The local farmers have greatly diversified. Now our area is known for its broiler houses, cotton, and blueberries.
My name is Trevor Smith, and I grew up on a small row crop/tobacco/hog farm. My dad and mom grew up farming; all my grandparents, great-grandparents...basically as far up the family tree as you can climb; they've all been farmers. As the saying goes, farming is in my blood. All I've ever wanted to do was farm. God blessed me to be the valedictorian of my high school class, and many doors were opened to me. After much thought and prayer I decided to forego college. Through it all my focus and desire was the same - to farm and to raise a family on the farm. So, my dad brought me into partnership with him (and later, my brother as well), and we've grown into a mid-sized farm for our area. This year we have 1,200 acres of cotton, 1,100 acres of peanuts, and 150 acres of watermelons. We are also members of Osceola Cotton Co. a cotton gin owned by a group of farmers (I currently serve as a board member), and Tifton Quality Peanuts (more on that below).
In 2002, I started dating Christy, a local girl I had known all my life who had also grown up on a farm. After seven weeks of dating, I popped the question, she said yes, and nine years and two kids later we are still going strong. We both grew up with strong Christian beliefs and have kept Christ at the center of our marriage, our life, and our farm.
Christy's dad was a watermelon farmer, and with her knowledge of the produce industry we were able to add watermelons to our operation in 2007. They are marketed under the name of Smith Quality Produce. We have upped our acreage every year since we began. Christy oversees the watermelon production and also serves as our broker. Watermelon harvest is the main focus of Christy and myself during the summer with my dad and brother taking care of the cotton and peanuts.
Watermelons are still harvested the old-fashioned way - by lots of manual labor. First the cutters go through the field, cutting the ripe fruit off the vines and rolling them belly-up so the loaders can see them. The loaders pass the watermelons onto a trailer filled with empty boxes, where they are packed according to size. The trailers are pulled to our packing shed, where we unload them them with a forklift, and then load them directly into a semi trailer. This year, we loaded over 200 semi loads of watermelons from late May until early August.
There is no such thing as a typical day on our farm. Things vary so much from season to season, even from week to week. However, since we are about to enter peanut harvest, let me hit the highlights. Many people are unaware of this, but peanuts grow in the ground, not on trees. So the first step to harvesting peanuts is to get them out of the ground. This is done by an inverter, which digs the peanuts up, then flips the plant upside down so that the sun can dry the peanut. After the peanuts have dried sufficiently (usually 5-7 days), we run them through a tractor pulled combine, which separates the peanut from the vine. The vines can be rolled for hay, or left on the ground for fertilizer. We haul the peanuts in bulk a peanut mill, which cleans and grades them, and then ships them to Tifton Quality Peanut. TQP is a farmer owned shelling plant with 100+ farmers owning shares. There the peanuts are shelled and shipped to domestic and foreign customers.
I can't imagine living any other way than on the farm. It's all I've ever known and all I ever hope to know. There is no better place to raise a family, to instill a good work ethic in your children; to see the mighty hand of God at work, than right here. Sure, there are tough times. In 2011, we experienced the worst drought this area had seen in many, many years. In times like those, I think back to all those farmers before me, and I know that if they could make it, with God's help, I can too.
Thanks for reading, and now you can say you know another peanut farmer besides Jimmy Carter!
You can follow my blog at gafarmer80.blogspot.com, and follow me on Twitter @GaFarmer80.
Thank you Trevor for a great feature and teaching us more about peanuts and watermelon production!! Be sure to check out his blog and if you would like to be a feature - please contact us!