By Marlee Moore
Brady Peek puts his cherry-red GMC pickup in park. Sporting a black vest with the State Young Farmers Committee logo, the 28 year old steps into brisk winter air, already anticipating next year’s corn crop growing tall on the rolling fields of Ridgeway Place.
“This is my favorite place on Earth,” said Peek, referring to the Limestone County farm his grandfather pieced together over a lifetime. “It ties back so much to what I do.”
Peek grows corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat around Athens. He was also elected by fellow growers to lead the Alabama Farmers Federation State Young Farmers Committee in 2021. As chair, he’ll work alongside 10 other 18- to 35-year-olds from across the state. He’ll also serve a one-year, ex-officio term on the Federation state board.
“I want to keep everyone as excited about Young Farmers as I am,” he said. “Networking is one of the most important things I’ve gotten out of Young Farmers. I can learn something from everyone out there. We all face the same general obstacles.”
Peek is a second-generation State Young Farmers Committee chair (his dad, Jeff, served in 1991). The young farmer grew up on the Federation meeting circuit. Peek’s December birthday regularly falls during the organization’s annual meeting, and by age 16, he was attending Limestone County Young Farmers events.
“Growing up, there was nothing I wanted to do more than farm,” he said.
His dream came with challenges. Peek’s family transitioned from row crop farming to equipment sales in the early 2000s. Perseverance, persistence and participation in FFA led Peek back to row crops through a Supervised Agricultural Experience.
In 2010, he planted 100 acres of soybeans and helped a local farmer in exchange for using equipment. Throughout the next decade, Peek made strides to build his farm.
“I would buy a tractor in the spring, put my crop in and then sell the tractor,” he said. “Trading helped keep the financial ball rolling.”
Today, Peek and wife Anna raise 1,600 acres of crops. They’ve improved efficiency, increased irrigated acres and bought land of their own. They attend Oakland Church of Christ.
The Peeks were friends in high school and started dating once he returned home with an Auburn University agronomy and soils degree in hand. While at Auburn, Peek’s Young Farmers involvement continued to grow. He also served as College of Agriculture president.
“I didn’t know how much went into farming or how many farmers were in our area before I started dating Brady,” said Anna, 27, a fifth-grade teacher at Athens Intermediate School. “Farming can be isolating, and I’m amazed by how many people he’s met and keeps in contact with through Young Farmers.”
Peek has represented District 1 on the State Young Farmers Committee since 2018. That area includes Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Morgan and Winston counties.
He said he’s excited to learn more about how the Federation works to serve its 350,000 members.
“I want to keep growing involvement and showcase opportunities in the organization. Until you get together with other people, it’s hard to build those friendships and relationships,” he said. “Since we’ve come out of the first COVID year, we know a little more what to expect as we try to plan Young Farmers activities.”
Peek wants to encourage county committees to grow. He said he supports safe, small events where young farmers can interact and talk one-on-one. Federation Young Farmers Division Director Jennifer Christenberry said she looks forward to building on her relationship with Brady.
“I first had the opportunity to work with Brady while he was involved in Auburn Young Farmers, and his passion for the Farmers Federation was evident, even then,” she said. “His roots are deeply grounded in this organization, and he has a great desire to see the Young Farmers program continue to grow. In a time as challenging as this, his passion will be a great benefit to the program in the upcoming year.”
Peek is also a member of the Agricultural Leaders For Alabama (A.L.F.A. Leaders) Class V, an intensive leadership program Christenberry directs.
Anna said she’s excited to see her husband lead on the state level.
“He’ll get the job done,” she said. “Brady is a good leader. He’s kind. He’ll do whatever it takes and will do it in an honorable way.”