Barbaree honored at market

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Robert Barbaree family of the Shiloh community had a place of honor at the Grand Opening of the Pioneer Farmers Market Saturday.

The Barbarees are three-generation farmers and the Pioneer Farmers Market it s marketplace for their homegrown produce.

Frank Bryan, market manager, said there are not many three-generation farm families around any more.

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"We wanted them to know how much we appreciate their continued dedication to farming," he said. "Our older farmers are the backbone of farming and our young farmers are its future."

Barbaree and his sons, Jerry and Mike, farm the same land that his father and grandfather farmed. Any, hopefully, his grandchildren will carry on the tradition, he said.

"There's not a better place to live and raise a family than the farm," Barbaree said. "I grew up on a farm and Joyce and I raised our family on the farm. I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way."

When he had his hand to the plow, Barbaree grew peanuts, cotton and corn and raised hogs and cows. He grew produce, but not for sale.

"We grew it for our own use and to give away," he said. "I never sold any peas and peppers."

The Barbarees' farm includes about 1,400 acres and is operated by Jerry and Mike with help from their parents, wives and children.

They primarily grow peanuts, cotton and corn but they also have 10 acres of peas, five of watermelons and two acres of a variety of vegetables.

Jerry, laughingly, said he leaves the produce farming to Mike.

This is the first year that Mike has taken his produce to market and going to market is a family affair.

On Saturday, the whole family was there to show and sell the fruits of the summer harvest and they had a busy day.

"Is produce farming profitable?

I don't know yet," Mike said, laughing. "But, we've enjoyed it so far. Everybody helps out. It's a family venture."

By "family venture" Mike means that every family member is welcome in the "pea" patch.

"We helped them with the picking yesterday," said Joyce. "And, it's fun to come to the market. We enjoy it all."

Mike said selling produce is different from driving a load of peanuts to the mill because you get to interact with so many different people.

"It's like a social outing," he said, laughing,

- a social outing that puts a little jingle in the producers pocket.

Robert said he thinks the Farmers Market is a good idea because it's a way that farmers can further diversify their farming operation.

Diversification seems to be the way and means through which a farmer can stay on the farm these days. The Barbarees have diversified their operation to include 14 poultry houses. And, now, produce is adding another dimension to their farm.

"We're all out here on the farm together," Joyce said. "That's the way I like it and I want it to stay that way."

Her husband agreed.

"Farming's a hard life at times, but it's a good life," Robert said. "A real good life."