Climax, North Carolina
“More and more women are becoming active in farming and agricultural careers. They are moving beyond the ‘behind the scenes’ jobs and coming to the forefront.” -Faylene Whitaker
Whitaker Farms has a rich history of agriculture in Climax, North Carolina. Faylene Whitaker and her husband started their first operation in 1975. The farm started with ten acres of rented land, one tractor and a $40 tobacco setter. The main operation is still located on this land today.
Transitioning to the Next Generation
Today, the farm is growing 240 acres of organic tobacco, 30 acres of tomatoes/greenhouse tomatoes, flowers and organic sweet corn. Aside from crops, the operation has a landscape division and two garden centers. Faylene has always had an active role in the operation and has been there to guide the farm as it grows. Her focus now is transitioning the farm to the next generation, including both of her sons’ wives and their children.
The Good and the Bad
When asked how she first got into agriculture, she laughed as she said, “I married a man who said he’d never farm and then we decided we would anyway, so we started our farm from the ground up.” Carolina Farm Credit has been the lender of choice since the beginning. “We’ve been in business for a long time and we’ve seen loan officers retire and new ones replace them. We have had a great working relationship with all of them. Farm Credit understands the bad years and the good years.”
More Women in Agriculture
As society continues to change, agriculture continues to change along with it. As more women choose agriculture as their career path, the roles of women in those industries are evolving. “More and more women are becoming active in farming and agricultural careers. They are moving beyond the ‘behind the scenes’ jobs and coming to the forefront.”
Faylene sees those changes as an opportunity for women in agriculture. “Young women in agriculture have great opportunities to explore new technology, new roles, and what they do better because of their understanding of nature.” With the constant challenge of having a qualified labor force in agriculture, the opportunities are plentiful.
While she agrees that not every day is perfect, the most satisfying part about her work in agriculture is being able to work with her family and knowing they did a good job doing what they love. As her sons and their families continue to transition into their roles, she is happy to see more women taking on pivotal roles in agriculture.