A sweet and Sharp family farming tradition

By on July 10, 2020

Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Courtney and James Sharp, of Deans Farm Market, are two of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run for an entire year on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!

Meet James and Courtney Sharp of Deans Farm Market in Wilson. In 1965, the farm was started by Bruce and Brenda Deans, but when they retired in 2001, James Sharp and his family took it over. Now on the fifth generation of farmers, the Sharp family works hard every day to keep the legacy of fresh, local produce going.

When Courtney married James in 2006, she not only fell in love with him, but with farming and agritourism as well. On the farm, James is the farmer, whereas Courtney is the educator. “James is a fifth-generation farmer and has a passion for growing produce,” Courtney said, “I, however, obtained my masters in education and have a passion for teaching children where their food comes from and correlating the farm to their curriculum in school.”

Although the Sharps are most famous for their delicious watermelons, the very first commodity they grew was strawberries. They now specialize in growing seedless mini watermelons, which are Courtney’s favorite, in addition to other produce items such as collards, lettuce, squash, peas and butter beans.

A typical day on the farm starts early and ends late. “There is no rest,” Courtney says, “the days are full of harvesting, packing, loading and shipping, but the most rewarding part of our job is seeing others enjoy our watermelon on a hot summer day.” Although watermelon farming can be hard due to the nature of the market and the variability of North Carolina weather, James says the most important thing to remember is to always keep moving and improving. “The most important lesson I have learned about farming in North Carolina is to never be complacent,” James said, “there is always a need to grow and continue to learn about my trade.” According to the Sharps, growing watermelons, and other produce, is a pleasure because it is healthy and nutritious for consumers.

Watermelons from Dean’s Farm Market can be found on site at the market or at grocery stores across the state. In addition to fresh produce, you can also find ready to heat and eat meals and specialty products available, prepared by local chefs. “We have added a commercial kitchen to our farm to expand what we have to offer to our customers,” Courtney said, “we work with local chefs to create many delicious dishes, including my all-time favorite, watermelon cheesecake.”

In the future, the Sharps will continue to provide fresh fruits and vegetables not only to Wilson residents, but to individuals across the state of North Carolina. No matter what they are growing, whether watermelons, butter beans or pumpkins, the Sharp family represents the hard work and dedication of farmers across our state.

Posted in: Field Notes
Today's Topic

Today’s Topic It’s peach season.

By on July 7, 2020

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.” This is the time of year when farmers markets across the state start to really hit a peak in terms of availability

Bogue Sound watermelons offer a sweet taste of summer

By on July 6, 2020

In the White Oak River basin of North Carolina the first of July ushers in the start of one of the sweetest parts of summer — watermelon season. The Bogue Sound Watermelon Growers Association consists of about 20 members and

Apples to blackberries – A shift in farm focus

By on July 3, 2020

Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Brent Brown, of Double B. Farms, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run for an entire year on

As summer pests multiply, so do your options for handling them

By on July 2, 2020

Now that summer is fully upon us, you may be encountering some typical summertime pests around North Carolina. It may not help that you’re probably home more, giving you more opportunity to notice the critters around the house. The North

Annual summer internship experience takes a virtual turn

By on July 1, 2020

For more than a decade, the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has hosted a summer intern through the Youth Advocacy Office of the N.C. Department of Administration. The internship offers the opportunity to

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: New agriculture and agribusiness numbers released; industry continues to grow

By on June 30, 2020

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.” Last week N.C. State University economist Mike Walden released updated agriculture and agribusiness numbers, and the industry has seen growth, moving up

Sampson County Century Farm prospers under the care of one woman

By on June 29, 2020

Since 1913, the Petersons have been operating their family farm in Sampson County. Carla Peterson and her husband, Chris, currently own the farm, but it was his grandfather who laid the foundation in the early 1900s. Mr. Peterson’s grandfather sold

Marvelous melons: A Jackson family farming legacy

By on June 26, 2020

Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Brent Jackson, of Jackson Farming Company, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run for an entire year on

Farmers Market Managers Recognized for COVID-19 Response

By on June 25, 2020

These days, the four NCDA&CS farmers markets are still operating with modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been three and a half months since the markets plunged into emergency response mode – having to make immediate adjustments for public