Like any son would, Harold Wright stepped up when his father became ill and took over a farm that has been in his family for five generations.
He is the third generation to farm an area once lavish with tobacco. That farm helped a thriving economy pulse through his community in Bladen County, North Carolina. And it gave families like him a steady income, for a while.
The demand for tobacco soon died, and so did the economic boon in town. People who had lived in the county their entire lives left and never came back.
But Harold only had one choice: to stay. He saw the value in owning land passed down to him, and wanted to preserve it and all that it represented.
“We want to be stewards of the land. I want to keep it in good shape, and pass it on to my children and grandchildren. Because they ain’t making any more land.”
He has converted the former tobacco land into a happy haven for free-ranged poultry: Happy Land Farms. He uses no antibiotics. As commodity soybean and corn prices rose, Harold decided to grow his own corn to feed his chickens.
With a grant from RAFI’s Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, the Wrights are caring for the land and the animals the way nature intended, with the hope of keeping it robust for a happy future. He isn’t using any antibiotics on his animals, and his free-range operation includes chicken, turkey and hogs. He also sells a lot of vegetables. And while the economy is still not rosy, his wife Ann says, “we ain’t giving up.”
View and listen to Harold and his family’s story:
Harold Wright: Five generations on the same (once-tobacco) land from RAFI-USA on Vimeo.
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Happy Land Farms, Bladen County, NC. Photo by Alix Blair for RAFI.