H & D Farms Inc.: Farmers Helping Farmers
H & D Farms Inc. is truly a family farm operation. With different operations all running underneath one farm name, the family business continues to run smoothly with different family members overseeing specific aspects of the farm. One of those individuals is Jennifer Daniels.
Jennifer mainly oversees the NC Certified Seed Sweet Potato segment of H&D Farms, accounting for approximately 60% of the family’s business. She explains the main goal of her operation is to grow sweet potatoes that are mainly not used for consumption, but instead as seed for other sweet potato farmers. Those farmers then grow sweet potatoes for consumption.
The greenhouses are where the sweet potato plants are propagated. Propagation is the method of reproducing a plant naturally using the stalk of the mother plant. In this case, cutting off a stem from the original plant, replanting the stem, letting the new plant grow, and then repeating the process again, all the while harvesting sweet potatoes for use as seed later. Jennifer explained it is “truly wonderful; it’s an amazing experience to watch things grow to their full potential after time and nurturing like we do here with these sweet potatoes.”
For Jennifer, her favorite part of the farm is “seeing something grow, smelling the dirt, it is something that I wish everyone could experience. It is almost mothering in a way, I think, giving so much care and attention to a little thing and watching it grow to something bigger than I ever imagined. Obviously for me that is this farm.”
Apart from the family farm, Jennifer also serves on AgCarolina Farm Credit’s board, something very important for her. Jennifer wants to share some of the most important things she prioritizes as a farmer with those beginning their own venture. She stressed diversification, first and foremost. As Jennifer puts it, “diversification is key to a farmer’s success. We just went through a mini-drought and luckily just got a lot of rain the past couple of days. As a farmer, you can’t count on getting a break because sometimes you just have a bad year.” She went on to explain how the family has prioritized the interdependency of each aspect of the farm so that if one section is suffering, they can all help each other out. The family operates in many fields, including sweet potatoes, tobacco, cotton, chickens, hogs, and other row crops.
Jennifer’s biggest advice for other farmers at any stage is to support each other, their community, and for everyone to utilize their local resources such as AgCarolina Farm Credit to farm successfully.
Lastly, Jennifer emphasized the importance of buying local and supporting local farmers. She explained buying local “isn’t anything but smart. When you buy local, the money goes directly back to the farmer who then pays taxes to the county, which gets reinvested in our schools, roads, and community.” It’s a win-win for all involved and allows farmers to continue producing food and helping one another.