Hometown: Lowrys, SC
Position: Partner at Cotton Hills Farm
After graduating from Clemson University in 2008, I returned to my family’s farm in Chester County. We grow a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables along with cotton and cereal rye. My time is spent focusing on the production of our crops with an eye towards improving quality and increasing yields each season. In recent years, our farm has made improvements in all types of irrigation for high value crops. We have implemented innovative methods for improved crop production and tackled challenging issues such as a reliable workforce and predictable markets. Cotton Hills Farm has seasonal retail markets filled with our own fresh produce at our farm location in Lowrys, in the City of Chester, and near Interstate 77 at exit 65 in Richburg.
How often do you run across the topic of agricultural safety in your position?
Practicing farm safety is essential for the success of our farm. Left unchecked, farm hazards can be found in many places on a farm. These hazards can range from poor lighting in work areas to missing safety shields and even to situations with careless or inexperienced operators on farm equipment. Safety must always be on everyone’s minds.
How important is it for farmers and other people in agriculture to be safe?
Oftentimes, it seems corners get cut trying to save time. For example, instead of going back to the shop for more blocks when jacking up a piece of equipment, it is easy to have a “that’s good enough” attitude. However, when the ground gives way and the piece of heavy equipment falls then even more time is wasted trying to fix the problem. If someone gets hurt when the blocks fail, then suddenly time is the last thing that matters. It is never a good idea to cut corners to try to save a few minutes. Cutting corners may work a few times but eventually, it will catch up to any of us.
Why is safety necessary?
As a fruit and vegetable farmer, I realize that I could not grow and harvest this type of food without my workforce. I want my farm to have a good work environment for my employees and I care about each one. Keeping them safe along with the rest of the farm family is something that I personally care about.
What is the biggest way to leave an impression on middle to high school age children?
Without a doubt, the best way to teach safety is to show safety with hands-on activities. Even with my five-year-old son, I have found that it works best to show him the danger and also make the effort to explain to him why it is a danger. Telling him that mufflers can burn him is helpful but actually showing him an exhaust pipe and letting him see that it is hot and why it matters helps him to retain that knowledge.
What does your position do to mitigate accidents on the job?
Leading by example is a great way to show others what it means to practice safety. At the farm, I find myself always looking for hazards and making a point to correct them as soon as possible. It is also important to supervise and frequently check up on employees and make sure they are properly trained for the jobs at hand.