Proud to be a Farmer: Aries Haygood
LYONS, Ga. (WTOC) - Our world-famous Vidalia Onions are out of the ground, but that didn’t happen without a few challenges this spring.
"You think you've got it figured out, then something will happen and you'll realize that you are not in control of it. You're just supposed to be guiding the ship a little bit," said Aries Haygood, Owner of A&M Farms.
Haygood has been learning how to do just that while working on the farm over the past 14 years.
After purchasing the farm from his wife’s father last year, this was the Haygood’s first opportunity to manage 350-acres of Vidalia Onions as owners.
However, it didn't come without a few bumps in the roads.
“The challenge early in the year was nutrient uptake with the onions. When our grounds got really saturated after we started planting, the onions began to do their bulbing process, their natural process. When they did, they could not pull the nutrients from the ground quick enough,” said Haygood.
"Behind the scenes from our viewpoint, we have had to throw away a lot and make a lot of sacrifices this year to assure that quality. A lot more than we are typically used to," said Haygood.
Thankfully, the Haygood’s salvaged a successful season, but that almost wasn’t the case.
In addition to dealing with the unfavorable weather conditions throughout the spring, the Haygoods almost didn't have help from H-2A workers coming in from out of state due to the Coronavirus.
This was a problem for many farmers this season, forcing them to look to our elected officials for answers.
"Everybody was able to chip in and do their part to assure that we could get our crews in. It wasn't just the onion crews that we were worried about. We were worried about blueberries, we were worried about peppers, squash, and zucchini. All of the staple items that come from Georgia, we were worried about," said Haygood.
Once the help arrived, the Haygood’s made sure the appropriate safety procedures were in place to protect their workers and crop.
“When you really start thinking about food, you need to know where it comes from. We need to know who we are supporting. Sometimes it may cost an extra nickel a pound to support an American farmer or local produce but think about the kind of impact it has. Me, personally, I can give back to my local community,” said Haygood.
Supporting local farmers not only helps their business but gives the next generation of farmers a better chance to succeed, including Aries’ two daughters.
They are eleven and eight. I would love for them to carry on the tradition. That’s the whole reason I wanted to get the farm,” Haygood said.
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