Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County, and Justin Bryan, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy

 

Williams & Sons Farms in Two Egg, Florida, was founded in the 1950s by Lucious Williams, who is the first of three generations of Jackson County farm families.  Lucious worked on a number of area farms with his team of mules and a 2-row Chattanooga Bottom Plow to earn a living and save enough money to buy his first 20 acres of cut-over timber land.  Lucious and his family worked hard to clear the stumps and prepare land to start a hog, cattle, and crop operation.  Years later his son, Lucious Williams Junior, and wife Marie, took over the operation of the farm.

Five years ago the torch was passed again to Germanie Williams and his wife Sabrina, who now manage the farm with the help of his father Lucious Jr. (71), mother Marie, and advice from his grandfather Lucious Sr.(97).  Germaine has two full-time jobs.  He works 4-days/week for Davy Tree Service as a Utility Line Clearance Crew Foreman, and 3-days/week managing the family farm.  His wife Sabrina is Loan Officer for Regions Bank, but also handles all of the financial management of the family farm.  They have a daughter Serenity (9) who may one day continue the family farm legacy.

Today Williams & Sons Farms is a 500 acre cattle and crop operation.  They have crop land with a rotation of peanuts, small grains (oats and wheat), and warm season annual forages (millet and sorghum) that enhance the cattle operation.  They also have permanent pastures for their 150 head cow-calf operation, and add weight to their calves after weaning with annual forages on the crop land.  The combination of beef cattle, peanuts, small grains, and annual forages have been very complimentary.  The crop land provides nutritious forage for the cattle herd, and the grass crops reduce disease and pest issue for the peanuts, which are the primary cash crop.

One of the key tools for consistent crop farming success in the Two Egg area is irrigation.  The soil in the Northeast corner of the Jackson County has more sand than clay or loam, so water holding capacity is always a challenge.  While this type soil is ideal for peanut production, drought years can be particularity devastating in this part of the state.

Germanie Williams' Center Pivot

Germanie Williams is the first black farmer to own a center pivot irrigation system in Jackson County. Credit: Justin Bryan, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy

Lucious Sr. at one time had a traveling irrigation gun to water his crops, but over time the maintenance of the hoses and equipment was too great to continue.  Germanie remembers as a young boy hearing his grandfather and father talking about getting a center pivot irrigation system for their farm, but they were never able to make that happen.  In December of 2020, Germaine was able to make the family dream a reality.  He purchased a three-span center-pivot system from S & S Irrigation and had it installed, so he can now irrigate 60 acres of their crop land.  While farmers don’t have to utilize irrigation to grow peanuts, Germanie says that having this tool will allow him to plant at the best time of year, rather than waiting for moisture, or gambling on coming rainfall.  He invested in this technology so he can have higher, and more consistent crop yields for their operation for many years to come.

In celebrating this accomplishment, Germanie started  talking with other farmers in the area.  Through these conversations, he realized that he is the first black farmer in Jackson County to own a center pivot irrigation system.  According to the USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture there are 1,818 producers (farm management decision makers) in Jackson County.  Of these, 235 are black or African American producers.  Germanie is now even more determined to make this investment work to help him further develop the family farm.  If successful, he hopes to add some acreage to expand their cattle operation.

Since purchasing his new pivot, Germanie has been working with Justin Bryan, FDACS BMP Program to make sure his irrigation system is as efficient as possible.  He has converted his well from high to low pressure, and had the Mobile Irrigation Lab team evaluate the system to ensure uniformity and efficiency.  Germanie has committed to upgrading the system to utilize the best available technology to ensure his system is as efficient as possible.  His family has dreamed of having irrigated crop land for decades, so it is exciting to see the results of a young man working so hard to build on the family’s legacy of farming.

The Dream

I have always dreamed of being a farmer, plowing the fields, planting crops, working with equipment, raising cattle, and yes dreaming of finishing a dream of my Granddad to having irrigation on the farm. No one even knew I was thinking of granddad’s dream which became my dream. Working long hard days, dripping sweat, lots of skinned knuckles, and bruised body parts all to reach the dream. Finally, with hard work, dad’s support cheering me on, that journey, once envisioned, has now become a reality. With a generational dream, God’s love, granddad’s and dad’s cheers I now can say “Dream accomplished”. Now I must make it work with God’s love and blessing.
Germanie Williams, Williams & Sons Farms

 

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