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• Linwood Vick’s achievements in cotton production and his use of environmentally sound practices have earned him recognition as the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation 2013 High Cotton Award winner for the Southeast region.
COTTON FARMERS face both production and marketing challenges in the future, says North Carolina grower Linwood Vick. Vick is this year’s Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award winner for the Southeast region.
“It’s a tool that’s important in our farming operation,” he says. “Whether or not I’m fluent in Spanish, I don’t know, but I can explain to any of our H-2A workers what I want them to do and how I want them to do it. Lack of communication should never be an excuse on our farm for not getting things done right.”
Lyn didn’t just grow up on a farm, and he didn’t just grow up working on a farm — he grew up working hard and smart on Vick Family Farms. He graduated from the prestigious North Carolina State Agriculture Institute in 1997, then came back to begin learning the farming business from his parents and with his sister.
He was in charge of fieldwork on the farm, working primarily with cotton and soybeans. Charlotte was scouting cotton for the family farm and for other cotton operations in the area, as well as beginning to take over marketing of family-grown crops.
The learning process was moving along on schedule for Lyn, but in 2002 fate stepped in and his learning curve became much steeper.
During a trip to Mexico, Jerome Vick contracted a rare virus that resulted in Guillane Barre Syndrome. Though he has made a good recovery from the disease, he spent 165 days in Duke University Hospital — in a coma for a while, and paralyzed from the neck down for a much longer while. This adversity struck in the midst of the 2002 cropping season.
“I remember standing in the emergency room at the hospital, when one of the doctors told my father he had Guillan Barre and asked Dad what he did for a living.
“‘I’m a farmer,’ Dad replied, “and the doctor told him he’d have to take a year off from farming. After the doctor left, I told Dad, ‘That doctor doesn’t know us very well — we don’t let things like this slow us down.’”
For several months, Jerome’s job was survival and Dianne’s job was helping him. Running the sprawling farming operation fell to Lyn and Charlotte, who by that time had added ‘Mom’ to her resume.
Jerome missed the 2002 cropping season, but Lyn didn’t. That year the farm produced some of its best crops, and when his father returned home from Duke University Hospital, the farming operation was bigger and more productive than he left it.