Published on Wednesday, May 31, 2017
For most farmers and ranchers across the country, the ground they tend to is special. It holds more than the plants and animals these men and women care for. The land holds memories, traditions, and their own sweat and tears.
Along the narrow, sandy lane leading to the Bugby Plantation on Wadmalaw Island are fields of various produce. To the average U-pick customer, they’re just that, fields. But to Adair McKoy, one of those fields is where his life changed forever.
"I graduated from Clemson University with an ag degree and came back and immediately started working with my dad.” He explains. “We farmed for a little bit together and then I decided to go on my own. I got greedy. I thought I could be a millionaire by the time I was 35 growing tomatoes. And I tried. I thank God that He did not let me do that. He let me suffer the consequences of my actions. On April 17, 2002, I hit a brick wall that I couldn't go through. I was right out in that field that you drive by coming in. I finally just stopped the tractor and said, 'God, I can't do this anymore. I need you.' I was at the end of my rope. I was broke, I had no friends, I was in debt so deep, and my wife had already asked me twice for a divorce. I had nothing. I said, 'God, you take over.' And He did."
Since that day in 2002, tomatoes and strawberries aren’t the only thing that has been growing on Adair’s South Carolina farm. Through the challenges and opportunities of agriculture, Adair’s faith has taken off.
Each year, Adair prunes his tomato crop. He knows that if he wants to harvest large, high-quality fruit, pruning is necessary. If he didn’t cut back some of the blooms, the plant will produce a whole bunch of little, lower quality fruit.
As he trims back the tomato plants, Adair knows God has done something similar in his life over the last 15 years. “Pruning means a lot to me, because I know what it does to tomatoes. I have been through a pruning in acreage and in finances. I mean, I know what it is like to live on next to nothing for a long time, and I have been. I am thankful for it.” Adair says sincerely. “Because I very easily could have gotten sucked off into that trap of what Jesus warned about. Jesus said, there are three things that make us unfruitful in the parable of the sower. He talked about the seed being cast on the path, the rocky ground, the weedy ground, and the good soil.”
“I felt like of the four scenarios, I most closely identified with the weedy ground.” Adair continues. “I knew what was making me unfruitful was the worries of this life, the deception of wealth, and the desire for other things. I was facing all three of them, so Jesus started pruning me. The more He pruned me, the more He began to show me how to trust in Him. How to lean on Him."
“He showed me that I needed to come to the end of my self-sufficiency. I didn't want to rely on nobody. I was going to do this by myself. I didn't need nobody or want nobody's help. The Lord said, 'No sir. I'm going to bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency.' And he did. He let me hit rock bottom. And that rock bottom hurt.” Adair recalls.
While he has been learning to look to God for his provision, rather than trying to do everything on his own, Adair sees more and more examples of God’s love around the farm. Seeing kids come enjoy the farm is an especially fun reminder for him.
“I love to see the children come out into that strawberry field. Those kids go out there and they've got juice all over their shirts, all red, and stuff all over their face and they're grinning ear to ear. You look at three and four-year-olds, every strawberry they see is precious to them. 'Mom! Look at this one! Oh! Oh! Mom! Look at this one!' It is amazing.”
To Adair, it’s a picture of how God sees people. Each person is special and unique. “Like the Lord does, can I see people that way? Especially the ones that bug me and annoy me. Can I learn to see, 'Lord, they're precious.'” Adair prays.
“That's what farming is about. It's not about making the crop. Crops come and go. It's about an eternal harvest. It’s about people’s souls. It's about those little three-year-olds, and I am blessed to show them what God's got. I tell them, I didn't do this. All I did was put a plant in the ground. I didn't do anything other than that. I worked the ground, I put the plant in it, a transplant, and I take care of it. But I didn't do a single thing to make that strawberry red or sweet. That's God!”
That’s why Adair McKoy farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, faith, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, produce, tomatoes, Adair McKoy, South Carolina