Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Randy Bailey, of Bailey Farms Inc., 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!
At 20 years old, Randy Bailey fell in love with spicy food and started his lifelong journey of producing a hot commodity…peppers! Farming was not a foreign concept to Randy since he was raised on his father’s farm and grew squash, strawberries and tomatoes. After buying part of his father’s land in 1989, Randy and his wife decided to take the farm in a different direction by growing peppers.
Today, Bailey Farms Inc, grows a variety of hot and sweet peppers, including Bellafina, BulceFine, Shishito and mini-peppers. “We farm about 300 acres in Oxford,” Randy said, “but since peppers are so hard to grow on the east coast during the winter, we also have a 600-acre sister-farm in South Florida.” The facility in Florida is seasonal, operating from December to May.
Throughout the year, Bailey Farms is busy preparing soil, planting seeds, laying mulch, harvesting and packing peppers. Once the peppers are picked from the field, they are sorted and put in proper packing for current customer orders. Randy enjoys setting up the crops and trying new varieties the most. “I enjoy the marketing side of things,” he said, “but anytime I can get in the field and work on something new is exciting.”
Bailey Farms offers fresh, raw peppers as well as packaged, dried peppers and hot sauces. Their products can be found at most retail stores around the state, including Food Lion, Publix, Giant Food and Wegmans.
Randy’s favorite is the hot Thai Chili Pepper. “Not only are they delicious, but also full of Vitamin A and C,” he said. He prefers to eat them whole, but also enjoys them in a variety of dishes.
Moving forward, Randy hopes to share his love of pepper farming with his 10-year-old son. He hopes the company will grow wisely by venturing into new and innovative projects, such as additional varieties of mini-peppers. “Keep in mind that farmers are not factories,” Randy said, “getting our product to the shelf involves a lot of factors, a lot of steps and many things can happen in the in-between.”
In addition to farming peppers and growing the business, Randy dreams of racing in a tractor pull. “I’ve seen it done before but have not had the opportunity yet to try it myself,” he said, “maybe one day.”