Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Harris Jenkins, with Westward Farm, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and from August to December will feature younger farmers in the industry. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
“Agriculture is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle,” said Harrison Jenkins of Westward Farm. In 1900, Harrison’s great grandpa started the family farm, which at that time was a dairy farm in Iredell county. The farm has since changed to raising chickens and farming other crops, but the same family atmosphere exists as it did in the 1900’s. “I grew up right here on the family farm and have always known it was what I wanted to do,” Harrison said, “farming is one of those fields that you love but also live.”
Although he has always loved working on the farm, it was agriculture education that drew him heart and attention in college. “My grandfather grew up with Jim Graham and I always remember him asking Jim if he was going to farm and Jim’s answer was, ‘I’m going to teach farming,'” Harrison said. Between that inspiration, his mother being an educator and his father being a farmer, Harrison knew he wanted to teach farming as well, which led him to pursue an Agriculture Education degree at N.C. State University.
Today, Harrison is not only helping out on the family farm, but is also an agriculture education teacher at Statesville High School. Although this year has been nothing short of interesting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison has loved being able to make an impact on the lives of his students through his lessons and hands-on activities. “Most of my students don’t have any experience with agriculture because they didn’t grow up near it or on a farm,” Harrison said, “so it’s been really rewarding to teach them about the industry from the ground up and see them take it all in, experiencing things for the first time like gardening or caring for livestock.”
A typical day in Harrison’s life start’s early on the family farm by inspecting the chicken houses and feeding the animals before heading off to school. During his lunch period, you can find Harrison catching up on paperwork for the family farm, answering phone calls and grading papers. the school day ends at 3:15 p.m. and he heads back to the farm to help his dad finish out the day before going home. “It’s definitely a busy day but I love what I do,” he said.
Although he has to wear a variety of hats and play many different roles in his daily life, Harrison says he wouldn’t trade anything for being able to work each day alongside his family and teach his students about our state’s number on industry. This year, Harrison received the honor of being awarded the 2021 N.C. Innovation Young Farmer of the Year from the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, sponsored by Carolina Farm Credit. “It was very unexpected to receive this award for our deer corn operation but very rewarding,” he said, “it’s nice to see our hard work being recognized, especially on a project that I considered my baby for years.”
Products from their family farm, including bags of their deer corn, can be found online at their website or by visiting the farm. Harrison encourages buying local because it supports your friends and neighbors. “It’s just like supporting a business your friend owns,” he said, “you want to support them because you know them and they are close to home. Supporting those in our area shows that we care about the people of this state.”
In the future, Harrison and his family hope to expand and diversify the crops offered on their farm and possibly feature some agritourism events for the public. When they are not on the farm, you can find Harrison and his wife enjoying a road trip to one of the beautiful areas of our state.