Producer Profile: Gary Youmans of Green Acres Turf Farm
For our producers profile, Sod Solutions talked with Gary Youmans of Green Acres Turf Farm in Furman, S.C. The farm has been in the family for a number of generations.
1. Tell me briefly about the history of your family farm. I know its multi-generational.
Our family has always farmed. The original part of the farm dates back to the 1800’s. Row crops have always been a part of our operation. We have grown specialty crops such as watermelons and cantaloupes in the past. We even raised catfish in a big way between 1988–2001. My dad and Uncle Lynn also ran an independent fertilizer, seed and chemical dealership from 1973–2000 where we did custom application and custom harvesting of crops. While the row crops remain a big part of our family farm, the turf side of our operation started in the year 2000. Older members of the family currently involved in the farm include Lynn Youmans, Alex Youmans and Gary Youmans. Alex’s son, Kevin Youmans, has recently joined the operation after graduating from college and my son, Grant Youmans, plans to do the same when he finishes his college education next year. This represents three generations currently involved.
2. Did you always know you were going to stay in the family business or was there something else you had wanted to do for a time?
I never seriously considered doing anything other than farming in the family business. Farming was in my blood as a teenager and it still remains there today.
3. Is it easier sometimes to have the whole family involved and working together or does that make things tougher sometimes?
Having many family member involved is the strength or our operation. We each bring different ideas to the table but once a decision is made we all get on the bandwagon and try to make it work. This kind of approach has worked well in our family because we all have a similar work ethic. I think all family members having a similar work ethic is essential to making a family business succeed.
4. What changes do you see coming to the industry in the next 10 years?
I think the next ten years in the sod industry will be marked by the adaptation to new technology on the farms. This will include more precision applications of fertilizer, variable rate irrigation, guidance on sprayers and tractors and many other things to increase efficiency. A lot of this will be driven by environmental regulation. Integrating new technology will definitely continue to be a big part of our industry.
5. Tell me about your family life and your support structure at home.
I am fortunate in that my family at home understands that certain seasons bring about long hours. Even though my wife (Linda) does not work directly at the farm she has played major role in helping us identify some good potential employees over the years. She is always passing out business cards and takes great pride in promoting Green Acres sod whenever and wherever appropriate. Both of our children, which are currently in college, do the same.