A Visit to Harold Wright’s Farm

July 25, 2011 – Last week, I traveled to Bladen county to document farmer Harold Wright’s grant project– a pastured poultry production expansion. I was amazed at how sandy the soil is, so close to the coast in southern North Carolina, compared to the red clay soil where I’m living. Harold and his family run Happy Land Farm.

Harold’s wife Ann greeted me, and their Agricultural Extension Agent Nelson Brownlee was also visiting (on his way to a beekeepers meeting!) We talked about the difficulties of marketing- how very important that is for farmers and yet how very difficult it is to fit this into all the other demands of each day. We also talked about the struggles of fuel prices going up, feed prices going up, ect., and how that means the price of the pasture-raised, well-cared-for chicken should go up too – and yet, when the consumer wants to or has to buy the cheapest option, how does that translate into a sustainable business for the farmer?

Eventually, Harold came in from the field, accompanied by his many grandsons, who help in the farm work. Harold’s family has been farming the same land for generations. The road they live on is named after them! Much of his family still lives on that street. Being someone who has moved quite often, I marveled at the “belonging-ness” to a place and the deep, strong connection the Wrights have to the land they live on and farm. It was also moving and inspiring to see the closeness between Harold and his grandsons, their mutual respect and admiration for each other.

In our interview, Harold said at one point growing up he wanted to be a barber. Instead of being a barber, he went on to take welding courses and that welding knowledge has been invaluable to him as a farmer. For the poultry project, Harold has taken advantage of old tobacco equipment, constructing it into new uses. I was very impressed with his creative re-use.

Aside from the pleasure of meeting Harold and spending time on his farm learning about the pasture poultry project, I had the pleasure of meeting his cows and baby (tiny!) piglets.

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