Published on Thursday, June 15, 2017
Brothers Scott and Andy Robinson have been farming together in Williston, Florida for more than 25 years. Simply put, it’s what they’ve always wanted to do. They’ve see a lot of change, and faced their share of challenges, but they always find a way to make it work.
Growing up, they worked with their father and grandfather on the farm. At the time, the family raised soybeans, cattle, watermelons, hay and peanuts. Now, the brothers focus on growing peanuts, and they can’t imagine doing anything but farming.
“Both of us, when we were knee high, our granddaddy and daddy put us on tractors doing jobs or whatever. You kinda get it ingrained in you.” Andy explains.
“Before we could mash a clutch pedal on a tractor, they'd put us in a pick-up truck to put hay out. Granddaddy would get it in granny gear and tell us to hold the steering wheel and aim to that oak tree over yonder. And he'd be in the back throwing the hay out.” Andy recalls.
“He told me to aim toward the telephone pole one time, so I did. The only problem was I kept going toward the pole. He finally had to jump out and turn us. That was when I was five I think.” Scott adds.
A lot has changed since their early days on the farm. “When we got started here in '91, everything was two-row equipment, open-top tractors. We ate as much dirt as what went through the peanut combines I think.” Andy laughs. “Now it's all auto-steer, air conditioned cabs and twelve rows or six rows. I do in one day what it took Granddaddy all week to do.”
In addition to growing the peanuts themselves, Scott and Andy have a shelling plant. It’s the only plant of its kind in the state of Florida. There, the peanuts are graded and taken from their shell. Then, the peanuts are sold to a company that prepares and packages them for retail in stores like Costco. A majority of the Robinson’s peanuts are sold as canned peanuts, but some of their crop is processed into peanut butter.
The brothers take pride in the fact they are producing healthy food. “Peanut butter is one of the lowest cost, high protein, one of the most nutritious foods that you can have.” Andy explains. “There's people that can't afford to have a lot, but they can afford peanut butter. I eat a peanut butter sandwich most every day for work at lunch. It's good, and it's good for you.”
“It’s great being able to do what we love to do, and yet, provide something that is a good, nutritional food for America.” Scott chimes in.
Although they are doing what they enjoy, and feeding people is rewarding, life on the farm isn’t always easy. The Robinsons raise peanuts about as far south as the crop will grow. The sandy soils on their farm create agronomic and mechanical challenges. Regulations, markets, and misinformation off the farm can make problem solving even more difficult.
But to Scott, the hard times are what push him forward. “That's the main thing that motivates and drives us, just the different challenges you face year to year, day to day. It's just kinda in our blood. That's what we do.”
"The one thing about a farmer, they're going to figure out how to make it work. One way or another, they're going to figure it out. That's just what you do. I mean, we've been through tough times. Real tough times. There's some stories I could tell you. It's been awful tough, but still you find a way to do it and keep moving on."
That’s why Scott and Andy Robinson farm.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, peanuts, Florida Farmer, Florida