By Chip Blalock

Over the years we have met some incredible farm families and experienced a wide variety of family farming operations. Including, traditional row crops, beef cattle, dairy, swine, sheep and goats, equine, poultry, tobacco, fruits and veggies, nurseries, Christmas trees, alligator farming, catfish, trout and shrimp farming, bait fish farming, treasure forests and timber, turf grass, hay operations, beekeeping, solar and agritourism. Practices have been both conventional and organic. No matter the farming technique, the judges and I always came away with a sense of great environmental stewardship and a love for the land—a commitment to feed cloth and provide shelter and energy for the world. 

Howard Brown’s trout operation was one of the more unique farms we visited. Located in the hills of western NC, the trout raceways begin at the top of the hill, and water is partially diverted from a mountain stream down a series of breaks in the raceways where the trout grow to harvest size as they make their way down the hill. They are always in fresh mountain stream water and once the water reaches the bottom of the hill, it is filtered and released back into the original stream. On the warm August morning we visited the temp at the bottom of the hill was around 80 degrees. At the top of the hill, in the shade at the stream where the raceways started, the temperature was a cool 55 degrees.

***Note – Over the next several weeks, we look forward to taking you on a journey of the Southeastern Farmer of the Year Program.  This is the second blog in the series.

Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year The Families Behind the Program