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Friday’s Featured Farmer: Franklin Williams of Will-O-Wenn Farm

franklin williams and franklin williamsThis week we had the pleasure of interviewing Franklin Williams of Will-O-Wenn Farm in Duplin County, where they grow soybeans and corn. Franklin also is a member of the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Board in Duplin County.

Question: What misconceptions do think people have about farming?

Franklin Williams: Well, I think there could be any number of misconceptions. One misconception came along with the popularity of the old show Green Acres. It was a great show, it was a fun show to watch, but it was not very accurate!

When I’m speaking to someone in person, I tell them I farm, and they’ll say “You don’t look like a farmer!” And my response to them is, “What does a farmer look like?” And I know what they’re thinking about—they’re thinking about Green Acres.

It gave the impression that farmers were not necessarily the smartest on the block, and that the technology wasn’t very important, when really the opposite is true. Agriculture and farming are very innovative. Over the years the yields of the crops and the way of harvesting and producing the crops has really changed through technology.

Question: What’s your favorite farming innovation?

Franklin's CombineFranklin Williams: My favorite innovation came before my time, but right now we’re harvesting corn and the combine is an amazing machine. It means being able to take the crop from the field and put it in the truck to send to market. It takes the entire crop through the keepings of the combine. It keeps the seed and blows everything else that you don’t want out the back.

You used to do all of that by hand, one plant at a time.

One thing that I’m very involved in is being environmentally conscious. We do all of our farming no-till. There’s always some type of plant or plant debris on the soil, and it’s healthier for the soil. You don’t run your equipment over the fields unless you’re planting or harvesting. It maintains the integrity of the soil and it keeps it on the land rather than risking wind or rain erosion.

Question: Why do you farm?

Franklin's View From CombineFranklin Williams: Why do I farm? Well, I grew up on the farm, so I was familiar with that lifestyle and knew what it took. My family farmed, my dad farmed. I’ll be 53 next week, so I’ve been farming for almost 53 years. I’ve always enjoyed it.

I went to school at North Carolina State and graduated in agronomy, which is basically an agriculture degree, and came back home to the farm. I was able to take some of the education I learned in school and my background and apply it to my livelihood when I partnered with my dad.

It’s a lifestyle I enjoy. I’m able to be my own boss. I appreciate being able to see something from the beginning take it all the way through and see it to the end, which is what agriculture is.

Question: What would you like consumers to know about farming?

Franklin's farmFranklin Williams: Farming is a good thing. To me, the backbone of America is agriculture. There’s no other country in the world that can be totally self-supportive and feed their own people like the United States can.

This is our livelihood and we want this to be here for future generations and our children’s future.

Thank you Franklin Williams for being our Friday Feature Farmer at this busy time of the year!

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