Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers or agriculture industry workers. Grayson Ferrell with Vick Family Farm is one of those industry leaders. 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!
What started as a leap of faith by Jerome and Diane Vick has grown today into an 8,000 acre family operation known as Vick Family Farms. Both Jerome and Diane left their jobs in 1975 to farm tobacco on their small piece of land. Today, the family continues to keep the tobacco crop going and has expanded by adding sweet potatoes, soybeans, cotton, corn and wheat.
Grayson Ferrell is the third generation to help on the farm and she has loved it from the very beginning. “I always had an interest in the farm growing up,” she said, “I think I realized the opportunities that our farm had right in front of my eyes and didn’t really even look into doing much else.” Grayson recently graduated from the Ag Institute at NC State University where she double majored in Ag Business Management and Livestock and Poultry Management.
Upon graduation, Grayson came home to the family farm and has been following in her grandma’s footprints ever since.
“My grandma manages all of our labor, everyday duties and all aspects of the greenhouse from prep to harvest. Right now my main goal is to learn all that I can from her,” she said, “I want to make my family proud, so I am working really hard to learn every inch of our operation by taking each piece of advice and knowledge given to me.”
Although the farm grows a variety of crops today, its primary focus is sweet potatoes. Varieties include Covington, Bonita, Murasaki and Beauregard. They currently offer a variety of products that can be found at over 400 retailers along the East Coast, including organics and steamables. Grayson enjoys the steamable sweet potatoes for their size, taste and convenience.
Although each day is different depending on time of year, Grayson is staying busy managing the tobacco greenhouses, prepping sweet potato plant beds and handling labor/housing paperwork for their employees. “I love being outside, watching things grow and knowing that I helped make that happen,” she said. “Being large scale, its crazy to think about how much we actually produce and provide around the world. Seeing pictures on social media of our sweet potatoes 5,000 miles away across the ocean just really makes me think ‘wow’.”
In the future, Grayson hopes to help further the work of her family’s farm by bringing new ideas to the table and helping expand on additional ideas. Her advice to other young people interested in the agriculture industry is to only walk the path if you truly love it. “It’s hard work. You really have to be dedicated if you want to succeed and there isn’t much time to take off for vacations,” she said. “So really think about those things before you make your decision, but also think about the reward that will come after a long, successful season. For me, it’s all worth it at the end of the year.” When Grayson does take a break from farming, you can find her enjoying a relaxing day on the beaches of N.C.