When Garrett Dixon looks out on snowy fields in Lee County, he’s not just living in the land of cotton. The Salem farmer is cultivating an agriculture-focused future while honoring his family’s farming roots.
“I’m not sure why farmers have such an attachment to the land, but that connection is real and ingrained in us,” said the 27 year old. “If we weren’t connected to the land, difficult times would put many of us out of business.”
Dixon, who began farming on his own 10 years ago, is the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 2019 State Young Farmers Committee chair. He is also serving a one-year term as an ex officio member of the Federation’s state board of directors.
He was elected leader of the 10-person committee at the Federation’s annual meeting in December and said his goal is simple — to foster leadership skills in young farmers across the state.
“When you look at the Federation’s state board, most got their start in Young Farmers,” said Dixon, who also serves as State Young Farmers Committee South Alabama At-Large representative. “We have to invest in our future leaders so we can continue to serve the state’s farmers and agriculture industry.”
It’s an approach that worked locally in Lee County.
Dixon was one of a handful of Lee County Young Farmers when the group reorganized in 2014, and he consistently recruits new members, said wife Robin.
These days, Lee County boasts one of the most active committees in the state, said Federation Young Farmers Division Director Jennifer Christenberry. The group meets monthly, hosts outreach activities and won an Award of Excellence in 2018.
“Garrett is passionate about agriculture and loves people,” Christenberry said. “Those qualities will drive him as he leads the state committee in growing membership, developing leaders and hosting the Young Farmers Conference in March.”
Dixon said he’s excited to work with the state committee and meet more young farmers across Alabama.
“We come from different backgrounds — from agribusiness to row crops to livestock,” he said. “Meeting other young farmers is invaluable. We’re a small percent of the agriculture community, and we rely on each other to learn and develop new ideas.”
While in college, Dixon was Auburn University (AU) Young Farmers chairman. He graduated in 2014 sporting the same degree as Robin — animal sciences production management. The two met in an undergraduate class and married in 2017.
Robin is an agriscience teacher and FFA advisor at Smiths Station High School and said students are fascinated she married a farmer.
“They ask what my husband does, and when I say he’s a cotton farmer, they can’t believe it,” said the Florida native. “But I love tying into my classes what we do on the farm — growing a crop people use and wear every day.”
Dixon, whose grandfather and uncle grew row crops until the early 2000s, began raising Angus cattle at age 17 before branching into soybean farming. Drought followed by torrential rainfall challenged Dixon in his first two growing seasons, leading him back to the drawing board — and cotton, his family’s traditional crop.
“Each year I bring additional parts of our farm back into cotton production as my acreage expands,” Dixon said. “We’re always looking to diversify our operation to ensure its success going forward.”
The Dixons share their passion for farming on social media, too, lending an insider’s perspective into life at Dixon Farms through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They attend First Baptist Church of Opelika.