Cotton and wheat are still grown here, and so is dark fire tobacco. Beef cattle and hogs are still raised on many farms. Agriculture remains a vital part of the economy in Dickson County, even though the industry has changed quite a bit in recent years.
“For example, the county is still home to lots of beef cattle, but the numbers have decreased a bit ever since a drought of three years ago,” says Mike Henry, agency manager with Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company and a lifelong farmer. “Plus farmers don’t try to raise the biggest, heaviest beef cattle anymore. The goal these days is to raise quality beef that the consumer is demanding.”
Henry says people can still make a decent living at farming but it requires some degree of specialization.
“We really don’t see one farmer anymore raising multiple items for profit, like hogs, tobacco, cattle and row crops,” he says. “Even with beef cattle and hogs, many are picking one where they have the most expertise. A lot of people are now producing fruits such as blueberries, and we’re down to only one dairy farm in Dickson County – Daniel's Dairy. But we do still have 17 century farms that have been in the same families for more than 100 years.”
Farm of the Year
Tidwell Farm in Dickson County was established in 1944 and today is run by brothers Farris, Billy and Randy Tidwell. Two other brothers, James and Wilson, own part of the farm but are not involved in the day-to-day operations.
“My parents originally bought the property, and we have 185 acres for raising 25 head of cattle along with some chickens, corn and other vegetables,” says Randy Tidwell. “We try to make a little money from the sale of cattle but aren’t in it for our livelihoods. I’m retired from the Dickson County Board of Education, and my other two brothers working the farm are retired from the railroad industry and trucking industry. We still enjoy farm life, so we keep it going.”
Tidwell Farm was named 2010 Dickson County Heritage Farm of the Year by the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce.
“My parents left us boys with a nice place where we’ve raised our families and lived our lives,” Tidwell says. “We’re proud of it and happy to still run it.”
To further help keep the farming spirit alive in Dickson County, both Dickson County High School and Creek Wood High School have strong Future Farmers of America programs in place. The mission of the programs is to help interested students develop their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agriculture education.
“Getting students active early in agriculture means they might continue staying active in it for a longer period,” Henry says. “Agriculture is still a great career choice, especially these days with so many advancements and so many diverse and interesting careers to go into.”
Read more about agriculture in Dickson, TN.