Friday Spotlight: Young Farmers & Ranchers

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The American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers program includes both men and women between the ages of 18-35. The objective of the Young Farmers & Ranchers program is to surface, grow and develop young Farm Bureau members and provide them opportunities and experiences to strengthen their leadership and ensure effective Farm Bureaus.

The Young Farmers & Ranchers program is focused on personal growth and leadership development in the areas of public speaking, media training, issue advocacy, business development, networking, service leadership and telling the story of agriculture.

The Stokes & Rockingham County Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee meets monthly to discuss current agriculture issues, community service and volunteer events, and agriculture trips. In the past, this committee has helped with building gardens at local elementary schools, donated goods to the local food pantries, provided farmer relief during the hurricanes Michael and Matthew, as well as helped with getting the grounds ready at Camp Carefree.

Just recently, the Stokes & Rockingham YF&R Committee took a District Farm Tour to Henderson and Buncombe Counties to visit local farmers and establishments. The first stop on our District Farm tour was The Biltmore Estate. America’s largest home and the 8,000 acres of land (which used to total 125,000 acres) did not disappoint! So much history, and innovation lies here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina! The Biltmore Farm was originally a Dairy Farm, believed to be the largest herd of registered Jersey’s in the world. Beyond dairy the farm also consisted of sheep, cattle, poultry, and a sustainable garden for produce. Today the farm has a herd of Angus-based cattle and Berkshire pigs all of which are utilized in the restaurants on The Estate, as well as Dorper sheep and other crops such as corn, and soybeans.

Barn Field with livestock Buildings on farm People gathered new fence

The next stop was Flavor 1st Growers and Packers where they grow, pack, and ship 31 varieties of produce for grocery stores, wholesalers, and fresh markets. They own and operate farms in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. This operation shows exactly how groceries get from the farm to the grocery store!

Planting field Sorting machine Man holding a microphone Planting rows with clouds overhead People sorting vegetables on a conveyor belt

Next, Jason Davis welcomed us with a hayride around North River Farms which included a cool-off pit stop on the Mills River. Established in 1999 this family-owned business provides quality horse hay, corn, soybeans, and produce. They also provide agritourism to the area which allows them to educate the public on the importance of agriculture!

Group pf people looking at camera People sitting on hay bales Two men looking at camera Plants in a field

The next stop was Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard! For half a century the Stepp’s have been inviting guests to tour their working farm and orchard. Beginning Labor Day weekend, they have a corn maze, hayrides, apple cannon, and “hayground.”

Barn Apples on tree Orchard

The last stop of the day was at Flavor Full Farm. Jared Nix explained the apple growing process, the different varieties of apples, and the new slicing operation his farm will put into action later this year.
Tree limbsPeople touring an orchard Man with microphone
Thank you North Carolina Farm Bureau for your support of the Young Farmers & Ranchers program. For more information about the Stokes & Rockingham Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, please contact