Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Hunter Gibbs, of Pamlico Shores Produce, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 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!
Childhood friends that turn into lifelong friends are rare, but childhood friends that turn into business partners are almost unheard of. That, however, is the story of Pamlico Shores Produce owners Hunter Gibbs and Dawson Pugh. “We grew up a quarter mile from each other and were best friends from the start,” Hunter said, “one day I mentioned that the potato business would be a good industry for us, he was on board and that was the start of Pamlico Shores.”
Both Hunter and Dawson grew up in farming families and always gravitated toward the vegetable side of it. “Both our grandfather’s farmed and my dad was a county extension agent,” Hunter said. In fact, it was the family legacy of growing potatoes that inspired Hunter & Dawson to do the same. “My grandfather grew chip potatoes back in the day,” Hunter said, “and they grow really well here so you get more reward for your acres.”
Located in Swanquarter, Pamlico Shores Produce now grows 300 acres of red, yellow and purple potatoes. “There really is no ‘typical day’ on the farm because it all depends on the season,” Hunter said, “but most mornings we start at 7 a.m. and work until the work is done.” Hunter is responsible for managing the packing house and ensuring the product gets sold. Dawson manages the field operation side of the business, including irrigation and spraying of the fields.
“It is a 50/50 deal and it’s not for the faint of heart,” Hunter said, “you have to have patience that you will get the rain, hope that the market will come around and faith that you will get a return on your investment at the end of the season.” Despite the challenges, Hunter & Dawson remain optimistic and excited about their crop this year and look forward to improving upon it in the years to come. “It’s exciting to start off with a seed, grow x number of acres, follow the crop, sell it and then come back the next year to improve it,” Hunter said, “it’s always changing and never boring.”
Pamlico Shores potatoes can be found at Walmart‘s along the East Coast. If you are a potato chip fan, Terra Chips uses Pamlico Shores purple potatoes to make their purple potato chips. “Many people think potatoes are not healthy because they have carbs, but they also have more potassium than a banana,” Hunter said, “in fact, next time you are in the area, I would recommend stopping to try some of ours at Spoon River restaurant in Bellhaven.” Hunter also loves to eat his wife’s bite-sized roasted red potatoes with olive oil, thyme and rosemary.
In the future, Hunter and Dawson hope to expand Pamlico Shores Produce with more acres and commodities. In fact, this year they expanded their product offerings by adding spring broccoli and watermelons.
When asked about the importance of eating local, Hunter compared it to buying insurance or getting your oil changed out of town. “You wouldn’t drive to another state for those things because you would support the one in your town,” he said, “it works the same way with agriculture. Support your farmers because they are supporting you.” Whether on the tractor or in the packing house, you can find these two friends singing out “Thank God I’m A Country Boy.”