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Pretty Boy Farms: From the Blueberries to High-Tunnel Farming

 

Rows of white high-tunnels stand against the horizon. They are filled with vines bearing cucumbers, plants laden with tomatoes, and other various vegetables. Welcome to Pretty Boy Farms.

Billy Augustine grew up in Hammonton, NJ, the blueberry capital of the world. His father started farming blueberries there about 35 years ago and then made the decision to expand the operation to North Carolina where there are now more than 1000 acres of blueberries. While Billy is only the second generation to farm, he is the fourth generation to be a part of the produce industry. About 5 years ago, Billy decided to venture out on his own and dive deeper into the produce industry with high-tunnel farming.

“It is a challenging occupation. Sometimes you are wondering why you are doing it, but I feel that farming is a noble trade,” Billy said.

Feeding others is at the heart of what Billy does. He and his family take great pride in growing nutritious produce for the tables of others. As Billy mentioned, though, farming isn’t easy. He encourages the public to do what they can to support local farmers.

“Buy local, buy regional, buy American—demand American—go to your stores and go to your produce managers in stores to be heard to help us out,” Billy expressed.

Times are challenging and farmers are struggling. Their passion for the job isn’t depleted, but their already small margins are being depleted.

“Everything’s going up. There is a lot more requirements now-a-days that the generation before us hasn’t had with food safety for example. It’s great, but it costs money. That’s the challenge of it,” Billy said.

It is the support of the public and others that keep farmers like Billy going. Support means everything. A customer of Cape Fear Farm Credit, Billy feels the support of his lending company through relationships and the patronage program.

“The definition of patronage is support, and I just feel like we get a substantial amount of support from Farm Credit through their services and their patronage program they have for us,” Billy shared.

The patronage Pretty Boy Farms receives is something they look forward to every year and really helps their operations. They are able to put money back into the farm for the future.

It isn’t just the patronage program that makes Cape Fear Farm Credit a good fit for Pretty Boy Farms. Billy says it is also the service provided.

“They’ve sat down with me and given me the full support and knowledge and resources I needed to make this thing happen that I’m trying to grow,” said Billy.

Going beyond just financial support is important to Cape Fear Farm Credit as an organization. Farming is challenging, and Cape Fear Farm Credit is there to make the lending side easier as they partner with folks like Billy Augustine that make a difference by feeding the world.

“We are truly blessed to have a lending company like Farm Credit in our counties to help us make a difference everyday for people around the world,” echoed Billy.

So next time you go down to Bladen County and notice rows of white tunnels, know that inside them is Billy Augustine, tending to a bounty that may just end up on your plate.