By Marlee Jackson
Brady Peek has an eye for innovation.
Since 2010, the Limestone County farmer has improved efficiency, diversification and his bottom line by trading equipment, fine-tuning planting, and investing in on-farm storage and out-of-state cropland.
“I like all parts of growing things, whether it’s a crop, a business, growing personally or trying to help the people that work for us grow,” said Brady, 30.
He and wife Anna, a teacher, annually farm 2,000 acres across Lauderdale and Limestone counties — one of Alabama’s fastest-growing areas. To preserve their ability to farm, the Peeks have gradually bought land, maintained healthy relationships with landlords and cleared timberland. They’ve also purchased land in Nebraska, which they rent to Corn Belt farmers.
“Being a farmer at heart, I’ve got a strong connection to land,” Brady said. “Land here sells for commercial prices. That led me to looking toward somewhere I could buy farmland with the hopes of keeping it farmland.”
Back around Elkmont, the Peeks have improved yields on corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat through nutrient management, cover crops, GPS technology and increased irrigation.
“By not focusing on the number of acres we grow, we can focus on small details we believe make all the difference,” Brady said.
The Peeks custom farm, too, and haul grain and poultry litter. This diversifies their business, maximizes equipment and helps neighboring farmers. They’ve also added a petal patch and sweet corn field; produce is sold locally and promoted on social media.
Brady has improved on-farm storage — for inputs and grain. Two new grain bins improved harvest and marketing efficiency, and two more bins are planned within five years.
Though Brady hails from a generational farm family, cultivating Peek land wasn’t a sure bet. His father, Jeff, exited farming to focus on the family’s equipment business when Brady was 12.
Four years later, a desire to farm pushed Brady to plant 100 acres of soybeans with help from local farmers and his father.
“Brady’s a better farmer than I ever was,” Jeff said. “Sometimes when you grow up in farming, you have the passion, and sometimes you just think you do. Brady is actually passionate.”
Skills learned in his father’s shop help Brady run modern equipment with minimal expense. He sources machinery across the country, performs repairs and uses the equipment for a season. It’s then marketed worldwide.
Since marrying Brady in 2018, Anna has incorporated lessons learned on the farm into curriculum for fifth graders at Athens Intermediate School. Anna also runs farm errands, brings food to the field and rides in the tractor with Brady.
She’ll soon share her buddy seat with son Ridgeway, who was born in July.
“I’m excited for our kids to grow up on a farm, see the hard work that goes into it and learn everything they can from us,” said Anna, 29.
Brady praised Anna, calling his helpmate “the voice of reason.”
“She brings fresh perspective and gives good advice,” he said. “She’s the glue that holds everything together.”
While growing Peek Family Farms, the Peeks have cultivated involvement in the Alabama Farmers Federation, where they serve on the State Wheat & Feed Grain Committee. Anna serves on the local Women’s Leadership Committee, while Brady graduated from the premier A.L.F.A. Leaders program, chairs the State Soybean Committee and has served as State Young Farmers Committee chair.
Brady is something of a farming evangelist — spreading good news about the life he loves.
“Every day is different,” Brady said. “And it’s kind of nice because one day something might break down, and we may have the worst day ever. But for me, it’s the hope that tomorrow will be the best day ever. And a lot of times it is.”