Laurel Springs, North Carolina
Pat Gaskin is a woman of many titles and talents. She is a mother, a grandmother, a National Christmas Tree Board Member, and a farmer. Pat is the owner of Laurel Springs Nursery in Laurel Springs, North Carolina.
For over 40 years, the farm has grown Christmas tree and 20 years ago, boxwoods and boxwood topiaries were added to the nursery. The Christmas trees are sold both locally and throughout North Carolina and the East Coast. The Boxwoods are sold as wholesale products and are often purchased by landscapers, landscape designers, and garden centers.
Challenges and passions on the farm
The nursery originally started with the intention of getting their children involved in agriculture and outside activities. However, with a 10-year turnaround time, most of their children were grown and off the farm by the time the first tree was harvested.
While the business may have missed the children, it quickly became Pat and her husband Lewis’s business and passion. This passion has allowed Pat to become an advocate for the Green Industry in legislative matters. Her primary focus is within legislative and regulatory issues are labor laws and the use of H2A workers on farms.
Pat was quick to point out that labor is the biggest challenge that agriculture is facing. Her farm manager, (Mario) came to the United States as an H2A worker when he was 18 years old. Her husband helped him to gain citizenship and he has been with the farm for over 30 years.
As the operation has grown, the relationship with Carolina Farm Credit has grown as well. “We’ve worked with Carolina Farm Credit for over 30 years. We worked with David Price at the beginning of his career all the way to his retirement.” The professional and personal relationships that have developed through this partnership has been rewarding for both Pat and her husband and Carolina Farm Credit.
A woman in ag
As a woman in agriculture, Pat sees a lot of opportunity for growth and advancement for young women to become involved. “Agriculture is a wonderful life. It allows you to get outside in the open air and can be financially rewarding, but it requires a lot of hard work.”
Pat agreed that there are challenges that women will continue to face in agriculture. “Being taken seriously is a challenge that women face within the industry. You have to earn your respect in agriculture. You have to produce a good product and run a good business to get that respect.” It is with these words of wisdom that Pat encourages any young women with a passion for agriculture to put in the hours and hard work necessary to be successful.