Richard Smith is Alabama NRCS 2013 Small Farmer of the Year
(l-r) Dr. William Puckett and Duane Andrews from Alabama NRCS and Small Farmers of the Year Richard and Prentella Smith.
Richard Smith of Marengo County was named the Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 2013 Small Farmer of the Year. An engraved clock was presented to Smith and his wife, Prentella, by Dr. William Puckett, NRCS State Conservationist, at the Federation of Southern Cooperative’s 45th Annual Meeting, at Epes, Alabama.
“The Smiths are good stewards of the land and we are pleased to be able to honor them with this award." said Puckett.
The Smiths strive to incorporate the best agricultural practices into their 190 acre farming operation. They received financial assistance through NRCS to install conservation practices such as micro-irrigation, a water well, a seasonal high tunnel (or hoop house), and an organic activity plan.
They grow watermelons, purple hull peas, okra, and other vegetables. They also employ local high school students who want to learn about agriculture. This hands-on-approach provides students with the skills to succeed and helps provide fresh locally-grown produce to the community.
“I appreciate the NRCS staff in Marengo County. They have always been very helpful,” Smith said. “They are always willing to try and help with my farming needs. Some of the goals for my farming operation could not have been met without them.”
Duane Andrews, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician in Linden said, “I have been working with Mr. Smith for the past five years and have learned that he is always willing to try alternative farming practices. He puts 100 percent into everything that he does. He adds value to his community by supplying local residents’ and several farmer’s markets with fresh vegetables at a reasonable price. He also tries to help future generations by providing summer jobs to local high school students who want to work and learn on the farm.”
For more information about NRCS and its programs, visit your nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for USDA programs until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process. NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture, or on-line at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.