Kelly Edens Archambault left the farm for big city life, but always knew that the farm is where she’d come back to:
“I went off to college and majored in business but wasn’t really sure where I would go from there. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a the farm or not. When I graduated my father gave me the ability to come back but I knew I just wanted to be out in the world for a little while. I worked for about five years in Raleigh and enjoyed everything that I did, but just always knew that it wasn’t where I wanted to settle down and raise a family. I wanted to be back how I was raised, so at that time I went back to the farm.”
The Edens operation in Hoke and Cumberland Counties is a diverse one, the primary row crop is cotton, two cotton gins, and crop insurance. When Archambault first went back to the farm, she was the full-time book keeper for the farming operation, but that role has evolved into much more over the years:
"I came back and was strictly keeping the books for the farm, payroll to everything with the farm service agencies. Then I started to go into the gin a little more and keep all of the books there as well. When I got married, we hired someone to come in and help with that. Then we continued to do some development work on our home place farm which was in the next county, Cumberland County, and I was involved in that and found it very interesting. And now that one of our employees has retired, I’ve gone more into the crop insurance. “
When it comes to advocating for the industry, Archambault is passionate about teaching children about ag:
"I go to different schools and talk to the children about agriculture. I really enjoy it. We handle cotton field days at our farm. The cooperative extension came up with a plan and we hold it and have different stations to go to. It started out with just cotton and we would tell them different things about how it grew, harvested and ginned. Now its expanded into livestock, soybeans and wheat. It’s great to see these children and their teachers realize how great all of this is. And you know you are doing a good thing for your industry as well as the children and adults who participate.
I’m also involved a lot in Farm Bureau who does a lot to get that word out and teach people about agriculture.”
Archambault is also active with Farm Bureau’s womens’ committees:
"The women’s committee is a great committee. The women tend to get out there and talk to people more than the men are able to, because they are usually out in the fields and not in the grocery store or at the schools. Women seem to be the ones out and running into people and having the ability to spread the word. Farm Bureau picked up on that. There is a really great state organization that breaks down into counties and they do a lot of outreach. They promote agriculture and nutrition and do a lot of charity work. I’ve enjoyed it and liked promoting the mission of agriculture.”
It’s not the common scenario, but Archemabault’s husband isn’t involved in agriculture:
"He works for the Department of Defense. When we married he knew I was very involved in the farm and I knew it wasn’t his niche. But we respect each other’s love for what we do. It works just fine.”
The development project that Archambault mentioned earlier is land that the city of Fayetteville grew into, so Archambault’s father turned the original farm into a sub-division, and moved the actual farming operations next door to Hoke County:
"I live on the original farm where my grandparents lived and my dad was raised. I drive each day to the working farm that we have now. We started buying land out in Hoke County so I now go back and forth.”
Archambault feels strongly that once exposed to farming life, it never leaves you:
“The one thing I do feel like is when you are born and raised around agriculture you do have a love and it always comes back. So even if you have left the farm, and even if you don’t ever go back, there is probably a part of you that can promote ag wherever you are at because it is a part of you always.”
To hear more of our Women in Agriculture series, including photographs,click here.
Hoke County’s Kelly Edens Archambault.