Robeson County Grower is Top Small Farmer in North Carolina

Lucius Epps with his wife Vera, owns Epps Produce FarmGreensboro (March 22, 2017) – Lucius Epps, whose family history of farming in Robeson County goes back at least two generations, is the 2017 North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year. He was honored with the award from The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during ceremonies Wednesday on the campus.

Epps, who with his wife Vera, owns Epps Produce Farm, was lauded for 41-years of agricultural production, including 130 acres of soybeans and more than 30 acres of other fruits and vegetables, including cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and squash. Using techniques to extend his growing season, Epps grows 6.5 acres of produce using black plastic and drip irrigation which has increased the profitability of his farm enterprise by $10,000 in the last four years.

He also increased his income by 30 percent in 2016 by planting soybeans during a period when prices for soybeans increased, and plants half of the crop using a no-till method to maintain soil health.
Although farming is innate to the life-long grower who began his career in 1976, Epps credits Cooperative Extension in Robeson County and the outreach from A&T’s Extension program for helping him learn new techniques to remain successful.

Epps told a crowd of 250 farmers and their supporters at A&T that although some people relegate farmers to a low status, that: “You can take a farmer and teach him to become a banker, which is a whole lot easier than taking a banker and teaching him to farm. There’s a lot of farmers out there, so please hold your head high.”

Small Farms Week recognizes the small-scale producers in North Carolina who generate $250,000 or less, annually, in agricultural gross sales. Epps was presented with gifts of a plaque, a monogrammed jacket and $1,500 during a Small Farmers’ Appreciation Day program, which was the culmination of the 31st annual observance of Small Farms Week. Workshops, farm tours, demonstrations and panel discussions were also part of the series of events.