We never know when we’ll have opportunities to talk about agriculture with the general public. Sometimes those conversations can occur in the unlikeliest of locations. I’ve had chance encounters to talk about cotton with people everywhere I’ve travelled – especially if I’m wearing a Cotton Farming shirt. Some persons are very curious about those two words.
They aren’t really sure if I’m a farmer or if I’m promoting a new line of clothing or maybe I’m a representative of a company that sells ag products. You can attract a fair share of strange looks if the person isn’t familiar with our magazine or the cotton industry. But in the 10 years I’ve worked here I’ve never encountered something as unusual as what happened to me on a recent trip to western North Carolina where I was visiting old friends from my college days.
Our group had decided to take an afternoon trip to Chimney Rock National Park just south of Asheville. The weather was sunny and clear – perfect for walking to the top of Chimney Rock and taking good photos. Don’t ask me why I was wearing a Cotton Farming shirt that day. Maybe I didn’t pack enough shirts or perhaps I didn’t have anything else to wear. Who knows?
And then it happened. A young woman approached me near the checkout line at the park’s restaurant and wanted to know if I were a cotton farmer – mainly because of the words Cotton Farming on my shirt. That, in turn, led to a lengthy conversation about agriculture. It seems that she was from eastern North Carolina near Wilson, and she and her husband farmed corn and soybeans. They had farmed cotton many years ago but had decided to switch to grain crops, probably because of prices.
She was intent on telling me about cotton farmers in her part of North Carolina and how she had a great appreciation for their work ethic and passion for producing that crop every year. I was about to leave when she transitioned into another topic – the weather. She wanted to tell me how farmers in North Carolina deal with the threat of drought, tropical storms and hurricanes. She then proceeded to tell me how much pride her state’s farmers have in their chosen careers.
We were both in a hurry and never learned each other’s name. But she wished me luck at Cotton Farming, and I told her to hang in there with those corn and soybean crops. She said she was glad that a few people out there still understood ag’s importance. OK, maybe it sounds corny.
But how often do you get to discuss cotton with a total stranger at the top of a mountain? And it all happened because of the shirt I was wearing.
If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.