As generations become removed from the farm, an unintentional disconnect is created between farmers and consumers, making it important that people share their stories and help bridge this gap. Farmer and newest executive committee member, Keith Caldwell, shares his story and encourages other farmers to share theirs, in hopes of preserving their way of life. Caldwell grew up on his family farm in Catawba County, which was started by his grandfather in the mid-1930s. Caldwell’s grandfather and great-grandparents sharecropped about 150 to 200 acres. Today, Caldwell and his father work together on that same family farm, which now has 600 acres of soybeans and corn. Caldwell took some time away from the family farm to attend Catawba Valley Community College to earn his degree in Horticulture, and NC State University where he obtained his degree in Agronomy. After college, he worked in landscaping and retail sales for a year but was ultimately led back to the farm where he was able to implement new practices he learned about in school.
Caldwell finds excitement in enhancing crops’ growth and yield with new breeding methods and technology. The farming industry is always evolving and becoming more sustainable while feeding an increasingly populated world. His purpose for farming is a combination of all the parts of farming that he finds joy in. Caldwell says, “My purpose for farming is to continue to feed a growing world while adopting new advances in agriculture that make my farm more sustainable.” Caldwell has had a positive experience with new, constantly developing technologies. More specifically, precision ag in machinery has increased efficiency and genetics, and farmers can use both to push greater yield off lower acreage. He advises new and future farmers to rely on their farming peers because “We are so much better at growing crops and the business when we work together. Don’t be afraid to try innovations because they could help you produce more and make you more profitable. Try new practices on a few acres and see if they are a fit for your operation because that is how you grow in the business.”
When Caldwell is working hard in the field, putting in hours on the combine, he likes to snack on Lance crackers. When Caldwell is not in the field, he enjoys fishing and traveling with his family. The dedication of a farmer in his field is an expression of their love for the land and humanity.