There’s an old saying that reminds us to occasionally thank veterans for our freedom, and reminds us that our freedom isn’t free. Perhaps we should make a new saying: “If you’re eating, thank a farmer.”
It would appear that many Americans today don’t realize just how much farmers bring to the table, literally. In Anson County alone, agriculture brought in more than $112 million in revenue in 2010, and makes up 40 percent of the local economy.
According to information the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service gave at its annual Farm-City Week Dinner in 2011, there are 487 farms in Anson County. Four of those farms were part of a four-county tour that took place over the weekend in Anson, Richmond, Moore and Montgomery counties.
While the motivations of the Cooperative Extension Service offices were admirable — to bring agriculture to the forefront and perhaps bring in some new customers for local farmers — the attendance numbers on the tour weren’t so admirable. In fact, many Ansonians probably had no idea the tour was going on at all.
One of the farms on the tour was Pee Dee Orchards in Lilesville, which was the winner of the Outstanding Farmer of the Year award at the Farm-City Banquet last year. Agricultural Extension agent Aimee Rankin said then that Pee Dee Orchards owner Chesley Greene has been in the peach-growing business for 50 years and has worked his way up to become the state’s top peach farmer. Another winner at the Farm-City Banquet last year was Leon Hildreth of Hildreth Farms. Since 1993, the family farm has been supplying grapes to Harris Teeter grocery stores from Washington, D.C., to Florida, and also supplies the grapes for the Wadesboro IGA.
It’s likely many Ansonians are unaware of these top growers right here in our area and just how much they contribute to the local economy.
Besides purchasing peaches from Pee Dee Orchards or grapes from Hildreth Farms, it might also be a good idea to support our local economy by purchasing produce from one of two local weekly farmers markets.
The Uptown Wadesboro Farmers Market is held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday afternoons in the town square, while the Anson County Farmers Market on N.C. 52 South is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And when you’re enjoying that fresh summer produce, remember: Thank a farmer.