Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Ronald Simmons, with Master Blend Family Farms, 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!
One of the best feelings is when people tell you that you can’t do something and you prove them wrong. Ronald Simmons, owner and operator of Master Blend Family Farm in Kenansville, did just that through becoming a successful hog farmer. “My father-in-law established the farm in 2012 and actually laughed at me when I told him that I wanted to take it over in 2019,” Ron said, “no one could have predicted that I would be here but agriculture has taken me farther than anything else I have done in this life.”
Prior to owning and operating the pig farm, Ron worked for a company called Murphy Brown where he met the man that helped shape and mentor him into the successful farmer he is today. “One day I met a man at work and asked him if he thought a city boy could run a pig farm and he responded ‘of course I do, that’s how I got started,” Ron said, “and at that moment I realized that I was talking to Wendell Murphy. Since then he has not only been an inspiration, but an incredible mentor to me.”
In addition to the help of Mr. Murphy, Ron also received praise from North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I knew I was on the right path when Commissioner Steve Troxler told me that my barbecue tasted good,” he said, “and I hope one day he will have it again.”
Currently home to 130 pasture-raised pigs, Master Blend Family Farm is most well-known for their high-quality pork products, but also grows a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, pumpkins and squash. No matter what time of year, Ron starts every day on the farm at 4:30 in the morning by taking care of the pigs, planning orders for the day, grading hogs and making deliveries. “My mornings start early, sometimes even 2 a.m., because I am making deliveries to my processors and consumers,” he said. In addition to being the farmer, Ron is also a marketer and salesman for his company and products. “You have to wear multiple hats as a farmer and because of that there can be challenging moments, but my secret is to keep a positive vibe always,” he said, “if you stay humble, take care of your team and stay positive, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.” Ron not only takes pride in the high-quality products he provides for his customers, but also in knowing that his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are proud of his dedication and hard work.
Products from Master Blend Family Farm can be found on online or at the general store at the farm. Several restaurants across the state feature products from the farm on their menu including Prime BBQ in Knightdale, Cast Iron Kitchen in Wilmington, The Pitt and Cantina 18 in Raleigh and The Chef and the Farmer in Kinston. Ron’s favorite dishes are the ones that are the most challenging to make, like liver pudding. “I love a good challenge, it’s what got me to where I am today,” he said.
Master Blend Family Farm is also a member of our Got To Be N.C. program where they enjoy reminding the public, especially young people, of the importance of agriculture and eating local. “We have to remind our young people that agriculture could be their calling,” Ron said, “Got To Be N.C. not only opened us up to new opportunities as a farm, but also works hard every day to educate the public that by eating local you are benefitting your local community.”
In the future, Ron hopes to grow his farm both in acreage and in popularity. “I want to be someone significant in agriculture and I want the brand to become a common household name,” he said, “and I will never stop working toward that goal because I love what I do. I have the coolest job in the world.” When he is not in the field with the pigs, you can find Ron jamming out to 1999 by Charli XCX.