Next Gen Ag: Diving headfirst into the N.C. Agriculture industry

by | Mar 13, 2024

Next Gen Ag is a year long series that will run on our In The Field blog, Facebook page, Instagram page and Twitter account. Each Wednesday, we will highlight a young person pursuing a career in the agriculture industry. Individuals can be in high school, college, or recent graduates who are working to establish a career in agriculture. Stay tuned each week to meet some of our industry’s future leaders!

Agriculture has a way of speaking to people through a variety of means, including farming, horseback riding, science and more. For Emily Langley, growing up riding horses sparked a passion for animals and livestock that led her to a career in agriculture. As a first-generation farmer and Food Safety Manager, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and be involved with various parts of the industry.

From the time she was three years old, Emily Langley could be found in a barn cleaning stalls, riding horses or completing other farm chores. “My mom grew up riding horses and even had a few of her own for many years, so she is the one that got me into riding,” Emily said. “Little did we know at the time, it would lead me to a future career in the agriculture industry.” Throughout her middle and high school years, Emily worked her afternoons, breaks and summers at a barn in her community. Whether completing farm chores, tending to the animals, or training horses, she loved every second spent on the farm. “After graduating high school, I started college at N.C. State University where I thought, initially, I wanted to become a veterinarian,” she said. “However, college opened my eyes to the countless careers available in the agriculture industry and changed my direction to focus more on the farming and industry side.” Emily recently graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and a minor in Agriculture Business.

During her time at N.C. State, Emily met her husband Boone, who already had a farm operation in Selma. “It’s funny how it all came together,” Emily said. “My husband was operating Ashlan Meadows in Selma at the time, which has now become our family farm. We met while putting diapers on horses, and our passion for agriculture has grown both separately and together ever since.” Ashlan Meadows produces a variety of produce, including tomatoes, squash, and cabbage, as well as raises hogs and beef cattle. They have recently begun venturing into agritourism by offering haunted hayrides, a pumpkin patch, farm tours and market visits. Their on-farm market is open to the public and not only features products from their farm, but other surrounding farms as well. Her biggest goal is for the family farm to continue to grow both in production and in agritourism. “I love the community that we have built here and how we can help others through the work done on the farm,” she said. “I would like to continue expanding in the future by adding more animals, producing more produce and inviting people on the farm through other events.” Emily and Boone also have two young sons that they are raising on the farm. They hope to instill the same passion for agriculture in them through the years!

In addition to her job at Ashlan Meadows, Emily also works at the Food Safety Manager at Kornegay Family Farms in Princeton. “I handle a lot of the food safety paperwork, both for international and domestic sales, through my position at Kornegay Farms,” Emily said. “It has really helped open my eyes to other sides of the industry and given me confidence in my abilities on the farm.” Through her position, Emily completes the GAP and Global GAP audit for the farm each year. It involves a lot of record keeping, processing customer requests, maintaining paperwork and patience! “Agriculture is our state’s number one industry, so I am proud to have two positions where I can make a difference,” Emily said. “The world relies on agriculture. This industry provides jobs, income, food, clothing, fiber and more. It’s the best industry in the world and an honor to be a part of.”

As a first-generation farmer, Emily brings a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective to the industry. “I think anyone who is just starting out in this industry can bring fresh ideas to the table,” Emily said. “As a beginning farmer, I have learned about new techniques and technologies that can be incorporated in this industry to make practices more effective and efficient.” In addition to her fresh perspective, agricultural knowledge and new ideas, Emily also brings a strong passion for agriculture and a lot of patience to the table.

Although she loves many aspects of being in the agriculture industry, Emily says the best part is the community. “Our community is small but big at the same time,” she said. “Everyone in agriculture acts like good friends and are always there to support and help one another. It’s a passion-based industry that leads to a heart of generosity and kindness that is unmatched in other industries.”

For anyone seeking a career in the agriculture industry, Emily’s advice is to dive in headfirst and just do it! “Many people will try to talk you out of pursuing a life of agriculture and farming, but this industry is growing and moving forward,” she said. “If you have a passion for agriculture, then seek out any and every piece of information and opportunity that you can. Find what speaks to you, dive in headfirst and never look back.” We are so proud of everything that Emily and her family are doing for the agriculture industry, and we look forward to seeing their family farm continue to grow in the future!