I've learned a lot about peanuts over the years. Interaction with growers across the southern tier of states and up the East Coast has increased that knowledge from a very limited view to a slightly increased knowledge of the crop.
I've sat on a five-gallon bucket in the shop of a peanut grower in South Carolina and eaten boiled peanuts. I've tried to watch through the dust as peanuts were harvested off of Crowley's Ridge in Arkansas. And even discussed growing peanuts on a beach at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a guy who grew them in the sand along the conjunction of the Gila and Colorado rivers in Arizona.
Much like this year's grower from southern Mississippi, Van Hensarling, they all told me that peanuts was a good crop to grow.
For the last two years I've gone over the stories of the Peanut Efficiency Award winners and have seen the details of how they grow their crops. The winners know what they're doing and I am amazed at the energy they put into their crops relating to sustainability. Well, that's pretty much why this group of growers has been selected for the award.
In Ron Smith's story he quotes Van as saying, "If it weren't for peanuts, I probably would not be farming." Van also said the same thing to me in a video interview. And, while I will not dispute what he's saying, I will say that after seeing his operation and how much he cares for his land, I know he would be farming even if he wasn't growing peanuts.
And, that's the thing about these Peanut Efficiency Award winners, they're passionate about what they are doing. They care for their land. And, they work their land to ensure that they will be doing this for a very long time.
All of the peanut operations highlighted in this edition are family operations. The farms will be handed down or have been handed down to folks who have a vested interest in maintaining the land for future generations.
I also saw a lot about prayer in the stories of this year's winners. I asked Van Hensarling about the shattered trees near his farm which had been struck by a devastating tornado.
As we were producing this issue one of our editors was delayed because it appeared that tropical storm Cristobal was headed directly to the area where the Mulleks farm. Major storm events get the ol' prayer chain cranking. But, it seems that outside of weather events, these growers seem to be regular participants in the act of prayer.
It says a lot about the character of these people — family values, faith, conservation. They care. They care about what they grow and the environment in which they grow their crops.
These are solid people. We need more of that in today's world.