Tina Gross – Innovating New Directions for Agriculture

Tina Gross – Innovating New Directions for Agriculture


Growing up my dad had two gardens, so you know
I was always into agriculture in a sense, so that put me in the mindset that I didn’t
want to marry a farmer, which never say never. So I married into the farming life. Well mainly my background is healthcare, so
I managed a medical practice for over fifteen years. It got to a point where being a mother, coming
home from work, preparing the meal, getting the baths, getting everybody in bed, I was
down to four hours of sleep every night, and I did that for about two years, and we knew
that I had to make a change. I’ve been on the farm full time for about
five years now, and still I teach part time, I teach medical billing and coding. You know, it’s a great life, it’s a great
way of life to raise children on a farm. In 2000 we started growing strawberries and
did the you-pick we-pick. That was an opportunity to invite pre-schools
and elementary schools to the farm to pick, to actually pick a product that they had never
seen before as far as growing on the vine. In regards to the fall agritourism activities
with the corn maze and pumpkin patch, John and I came up with the idea to do a corn maze. We started growing pumpkins in 2000 and then
in 2002 we planted the first corn maze here in Lee County and we visited one corn maze
in a different area of the state before we decided to do it. Education is key, anytime you invite the public
to your farm, you can’t miss that opportunity to engage them or put something in front of
them for them to read thats going to educate them whether it’s how strawberries are grown,
or how corn is grown, or pumpkins, or the cycle of you know, plant life, you have to seize
that moment so to speak. Each farm is unique. There is no cookie cutter mold for any man
or woman that’s farming, so they have to decide what do they have on their farm that is their
greatest assets, what can they spin from that, and for me it’s location, my marketing skills
and just staying on top of who your customers are. Agriculture and agribusiness is huge for this
community, I mean agriculture right now is over an 84 billion dollar business for North
Carolina, there’s just so much opportunity there for men and women in agriculture depending
on the commodity that they choose to go into. Before tourism you have agriculture, so agri-
needs to stay in agritourism. Most times the general public only sees the
crops that are grown, but theres an enormous amount of planning and preparation that goes
into planting crops and the corn maze and pumpkin patch is something I work on year
around. There is no faking it in agriculture, you’re
going to have really good years and really bad years and mediocre years, whether you
make a huge income or not, you’ve got to enjoy what you do. I tell all my children, figure out what like
to do and then find a way to get somebody to pay you for doing it, and you’ll never
work a day in your life. Just, your heart has to be in it and everything
else will fall into place.

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