Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Darren Armstrong, of Armstrong Farms, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 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!
For Darren Armstrong, farming is both a way of life and a call to action. Armstrong has spent his entire life growing corn with his father and brothers at Armstrong Farms in Hyde County, with the better part of 30 years spent as a co-owner of the business. “We all just kind of grew up on the farm, adding bits and pieces to it as far as farmland goes over the years. As land became available we just kept adding to it, and all three of us came home to the farm,” Darren said. “I went to N.C. State and graduated in 1993, and I came home and just started farming with my dad and brothers.”
The corn growing operation has steadily bloomed over the years, Darren said. His father-in-law recently retired, and Armstrong Farms incorporated the land that he had farmed as well. It has been a “slow progression over a lot of years,” according to Darren, but it has resulted in a business and lifestyle that always has something new to explore. “I like the diversity in the different things that we do. One day I might be on a tractor doing something in the fields, and right now, I’m on my way back from Washington D.C. from a meeting with Bayer. I’m on the grower advisory panel with them,” he said. “It’s real diverse, you’re not doing the same thing all the time.” Darren is the youngest of three brothers – Delbert Jr. and Kevin Armstrong also co-own the farm.
The process of growing a crop holds a special place in Darren’s heart. To have the results of a long time spent working hard is a gratifying experience, he said. “That’s rewarding by itself, just to nurture a crop until it turns into something that hopefully yields a return,” he said.
Darren has found ways to make agriculture stronger outside the farm, as well. This year, he was elected chairman of the board of the United States Corn Grower’s Association, a responsibility which has sent him across the country and to the White House on several occasions. Being involved in a commodity group took stepping off the farm for a while, which can be a difficult thing to do for a farmer, but Darren felt it was worth it to give back to the industry. “If you’re a part of a commodity group, whether it’s the corn growers or the soybean guys or the wheat guys, all these groups take volunteers to make them run,” he said. “Agriculture has to have spokespeople for our industry, and I don’t think anybody could do that better than what a farmer could do.”
Both on the farm and on the road, Darren wants to focus on telling a more positive story about agriculture than many often hear. “There’s a lot of negative news out there, and for a farmer with grain in the bin that’s pretty depressing to look at every day,” he said. “Hopefully by doing what we do and speaking up for ourselves, finding new markets and telling our stories, whether it’s a politician or a mom buying groceries at the store, they’ll know our story. And at the end of the day, my goal is the same as anyone else’s, to leave it better than I found it.”