Blog | November 24, 2020

Giving Thanks to Your Farmer Heroes

by Matt Glidden

Earlier this fall, we debuted a new interactive map to let you click around the country or use filters to find Farmer Hero profiles that interest you most. Looking to learn about a dairy farmer in South Carolina or meet a farmer growing grains in Minnesota? Now you can. We’re thankful to have met them and we think you’ll enjoy learning about them too.

We’re also thankful to read the heartfelt comments that come through on our Farmer Hero nomination form. Here are a few recent submissions talking about how farmers are influencing the lives of people in so many different ways.

Samantha Manning

Samantha Manning helping NCSU’s Veteran Initiative at a photoshoot

Robert Elliott makes a strong case for Sam Manning to be included in our map of Farmer Heroes. We’re sure that her community is benefiting from her hard work!

Sam is one of the most outstanding farmers I’ve ever known. Her day job is training veterans on how to successfully become small farmers on Fort Bragg, NC. Her afternoon job is growing produce for her CSA delivery business in her community. What’s left over of her time is donated to those in need. Sam also is the President of her local Rotary Club that helps those in need in the community and also the President of the Board for The Veteran’s Farm of North Carolina.

Sam is also a mother that’s raising a few kids and has fought hard to continue the legacy of her family’s century farm to pass on to her children. Lastly, Sam juggled all of this and triple-majored at NCSU’s Agricultural Institute and was the Valedictorian of her class. That wasn’t enough for her. She went on to NC A&T University to complete an Agricultural Education B.A. and is now in the process of becoming an agricultural attorney. She’s currently competing for acceptance into a law school, but what’s remarkable is the fact that she wants to become a lawyer that specializes in agriculture to help farmers in trouble.

Sam is also an Army Veteran. You won’t find many other farmer heroes today with the drive, passion, and pay-it-forward nature that pushes her to offer more to the small farm community. Sam is an absolute hero and is rapidly becoming a role model for farmers and specifically women farmers across the country.

Learn more about Sam and Watson Sanders Farm on their website.

Lee Riggs

Eadye Simpson wrote in with this story about Lee Riggs inspiring people across generations.

Lee is retired now, though the Riggs family continues to carry on many of the traditions. When the state of Indiana cut funding for kindergarten, we started a school to help the families. Lee became our Mr. Green Jeans. The school grew quickly to be what it is now, 250 children.

The beauty of young people hearing about the farming is that most do not know about it. Though Lee had a dairy farm and that was important of itself. He would bring chicks to hatch, help us garden, and even helped build a bridge that the kids could sit in and read and learn in when it was raining. I remember one little boy telling me, “I didn’t know salads didn’t come in a bag.” To carry tradition you need the farmers that love showing others the beauty of caring for the animals and the land.

Lennie Larkin

This Farmer Hero nomination came from Kari Nott, a former Farm Aid staff member:

Lennie is a farmer who grows flowers. I met her through working at Farm Aid, when we had an event in Sonoma County, California. To cater the event, we bought beef from a farmer named Guido Frosini, a friend of Lennie. I got a call from Lennie and she told me I should be buying my flowers to decorate from her. We’ve been friends ever since!

She inspires me with her relentless determination to figure out how to build a bigger, better domestic flower industry in the United States. She is a first-generation farmer. She teaches, leads workshops and is a mentor to many farmers across the US. She also showed me that it was possible to take big risks in my life and encouraged me to leap into a new one.

Thank you, Kari! That event in California was a good time to meet Farmer Heroes, since we profiled Guido Frosini as a Farmer Hero in 2016.

Learn more about Lennie and B-Side Farm on their website.

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