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Happy Dirt Organic Farmer | Randy Massey

about the organic farmer

Randy Massey is a third generation farmer based in Caswell County, NC.  His grandfather and father were tobacco farmers, but the land has been in his family since his great grandfather. Randy has been running the farm since 2008, which is when the farm received organic certification for 23 acres. Randy has since grown his organic operation to over 200 acres. 

When it comes to organic farming, Randy understands that organic practices are vital to maintaining healthy soil and building a more sustainable food system. One thing Randy does to care for the soil and the plants is plant oats between rows and as cover crops. Oats are like superheroes—they keep weeds at bay, prevent soil erosion, and even feed all the tiny microbes in the soil. Plus, they create cozy little microclimates for plants like his organic strawberries, give a home to helpful bugs, and soak up extra nutrients like sponges during the winter months. 

image of rows of crops on a farm with a brief q&a written on top

"the dirt taught me where my food comes from."

How did you get started farming?

Everybody back before me always done it. I grew up and helped them, and it was just something I liked to do. This place is my granddaddy’s place.

What’s one of your favorite childhood memories on the farm?

That tree right there, I never pushed it up because granddaddy and them wouldn’t let me. But then I was remembering as I was pushing another tree up the other day that when I was a little boy, they would bring me to the field and put me under the tree right there. And I could get out and I could play because there was a little bit of sandy soil around the tree. And I’d call it a sand castle but it was like a damn volcano but I’d call it a sand castle. You know, and I’m a dumb ass and I ain’t got no kids, but I often wonder if we wouldn’t be a whole hell of a lot better off in this day and time if everybody had something to do like that. It’s like kids don’t have a childhood anymore. I don’t know. 

organic farmer randy massey looks off into the distance

"don't be scared to work on something. if it's already broke, what can you mess up?"

How would you describe the farming profession?

It’s a challenge, which it is. It’s just like all the people that you meet and all; it’s just something unique that a lot of people never get to experience.

How has farming changed since you started?

I was thinking about that when I was walking down from the greenhouse. Granddaddy and them used to tend all this with d@*n mules. It’s amazing how much it has changed. It’s amazing how much it has changed since i was younger. I’m only 52. We grew tobacco when we started then we swapped in 2008 over to this. 

In the context of farming, is there anything recently that you’ve started to use or a practice that works better?

Using the microbes has helped us a lot. As far as disease control and the overall health of the plant and the soil, it’s better. You got the microbes outthere and your plants are strong. If you have a strong plant, you have less problem with disease. You gotta be proactive. But if the weather goes south, you can put everything but the kitchen sink on it and it isn’t going to help a f*&kin’ thing, ’cause it’s Mother Nature.

It also takes a lot of work to keep the mildew off the crops when we have a wet season. We use copper and microbes and peroxide. That’s about all ya got in your toolbox really. Peroxide pretty much kills everything when it hits it like it does when you poor it on a cut. 

organic farmer randy massey and happy dirt's taylor holenbeck inspect the oats

You picked an occupation you can really learn from.

You never quit learnin’. If you don’t learn something new everyday, you ain’t done nothing! I mean it will be itty bitty sh*t. There’s always room for growth, I don’t care how good you’re doing. Like what have I learned this morning? Make sure to pay more attention to the dates on every thang. 

Talk a little bit more about the unpredictability of it all. Like you’re looking out of the window and there’s nothing you can do.

Right. There is nothing you can do. You’re like “Well, what’re we going to do next?” Like the last three falls have been extremely wet. Ya know, we’ve had the hurricanes and the front come through. We kept the stuff beat off pretty good but it took us extra time to get it cleaned up. But, when it’s raining everyday there is nothing you can do. 

Right. There is nothing you can do. You’re like “Well, what’re we going to do next?” Like the last three falls have been extremely wet. Ya know, we’ve had the hurricanes and the front come through. We kept the stuff beat off pretty good but it took us extra time to get it cleaned up. But, when it’s raining everyday there is nothing you can do. 

What do you think it’s going to take for consumers to understand why they pay a higher price for quality, organic produce?

I don’t know? If everybody knew that this came from here and how many hands it went through to end up on the grocery store shelf, people would understand why.

Nobody knows that from right there to get it to down here how much d@*n time it takes. And, the sad part about it is we’re not getting our fair share of the food dollar out of it. That’s what so sad about it. But ya know, some people don’t give a d@*n about things and some people do give a d@*n about things. It’s the way it goes. 

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what they grow (organic)

Bok Choy

Broccoli

Cabbage

Cucumbers

Kale

Green Bell Peppers

Eggplant

Lettuces

Strawberries 

Summer Squash

If you’re a buyer and want to learn more about our North Carolina, organic produce availability,  reach out! We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re curious about Happy Dirt, take a few minutes to watch the Happy Dirt brand story

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