The well-mannered life of a farmer

by | May 8, 2020

Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Sydney Edwards Dunn, of Wendell Farming Co. LLC, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run for an entire year on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!

Sydney Edwards Dunn is not your typical farmer. She and her family have their hands in every aspect of farming, from planting and scouting to harvest and relationship building. Although farming has been in her family for many generations, Sydney didn’t realize how much it meant to her until later in life.

In the 1930’s, Sydney’s great grandfather started Wendell Farming Co., LLC, with tobacco as their main cash crop. Since then, the family farm has expanded to not only growing 400 acres of tobacco a year, but also soybeans, sweet potatoes, wheat, corn and hemp. Growing up, Sydney helped around the farm but didn’t realize until halfway through college that she wanted to play a permanent role. “My dad and brother are still the driving forces behind the farm,” she says, “but I realized about mid-way through college that I always wanted to stay involved.”

On the farm, she works on GAP certifications and necessary paperwork for their “God-send seasonal family members,” the H2A workers. Sydney’s father and brother are in charge of the scouting and spraying of all crops. Tobacco seedlings are grown in the greenhouse and planted in early April. Once scouting and spraying are done, they begin to barn and cure tobacco around July 4th. “We work hard to be the best farmers we can be, but there are multiple factors that are out of our control,” she says, ” but at the end of the day, no matter what, I love working alongside my family and getting to spend each and every day with them.”

In addition to her work on the farm, Sydney and her husband, Lee, also co-own and operate a crop scouting company, Intracoastal Ag LLC. “Scouting works like a safety board for farmers,” she says, “we take soil samples in the off season and inspect and monitor for insects in the busy season.” Although this skill comes in handy around the family farm, most of their work is contracted out to help farmers around the area.

Sydney loves helping her family on the farm, but her biggest passion is teaching cotillion and ballroom dance to middle school kids at Sydney Dunn Etiquette. “Don’t let the word etiquette turn you away,” she says, “it is all about teaching the kids to build relationships.” Each program lasts about six months, October to March, and includes kids from multiple schools. “I like the balance of being able to do two things that I love on a consistent basis, farming and teaching cotillion,” she said.

According to Sydney, skills learned from farming and cotillion prove to be both rewarding and useful in all aspects of life. “Every aspect of life involves building strong relationships with other people and being able to relate to them,” Sydney says. It truly is a family effort and they all play a role in educating the public on the importance of farming and networking.

“It is important to teach kids the art of communication at a young age because farming is not just putting a seed in the ground and waiting for it to grow,” Sydney said, “it takes building relationships with all kinds of people and working together toward a common goal.” No matter what aspect of life we come from, whether the field or the ballroom, reaching our dreams involves supporting one another through each growing season.