Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Collin Blalock, of Collin’s Produce, is one 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!
Think and do isn’t just a motto that Collin Blalock learned while attending N.C. State University, but one that he has put into practice in his daily life on the farm. Farming is often a trade taught and passed down from generation to generation. “When I was growing up, going to the farm with dad on Saturdays was the cool thing to do,” Collin said, “and, as I got older, I learned from watching and helping him.”
Current owner and operator of Collin’s Produce in Wilson, Collin started farming for himself at 15 years old. In 2012, Collin acquired 0.5 acres of old cow pasture from his father to plant peas. “I remember a lot of days pulling weeds and picking peas,” he said, “but it instilled a hard work ethic in me that has helped me get to where I am today.” In the beginning, he sold his products to mostly friends and family around the community but he wanted more. “I wanted things to change from people buying my products because they wanted to support the local kid, to buying my products because they genuinely liked what they were getting,” he said.
Now farming 35 acres, Collin grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including watermelons, corn, peas and butter beans. A typical day on the farm varies from season to season, but Collin enjoys every aspect from planting the seed in the ground to delivering product to the customer’s hand. “No matter if I am working in the barn, harvesting in the field or packing orders and scheduling deliveries, there is something new every day,” he says, “but most important to me is connecting with the customers because I don’t want to just be the farmer, I want to be someone they know they can count on and come to.”
Farming can present many challenges, especially when growing butter beans due to their short shelf-life. “Butter beans are a popular crop in the South,” Collin said, “but they can be hard to work with on the farm because if they are not sold within 2 to 3 days of harvest they go bad.” Despite the challenges, Collin says the comments and compliments he receives from customers drive him each and every day.
In addition to selling his produce at the on-farm stand Monday through Saturday, Collin also has two CSA produce boxes, one that delivers to N.C. State University Centennial Campus and the other in Wilson County. He also works with a variety of restaurants in Wilson County, including Marty’s BBQ and Something Different Cafe. “It is most rewarding to see the product go from my farm to someone else’s plate,” he said, “and it is always incredible to see the dishes these chefs can prepare using my produce.”
Although he grew up in the industry, Collin says you have to experience farming to truly appreciate it. “It’s not what you think it is,” he said, “on TV it is presented as a big corporation but it’s more like a family. It’s our livelihood. It’s what we grew up on and it’s what we do.”
In the future, Collin plans to finish his master’s degree at N.C. State University, expand the farm footprint and continue to develop relationships with customers around the state. When he is not on the farm or in the field, you can find him cheering on his Wolfpack at Carter-Finley stadium!