America’s PB Farmers: Alabama’s Thomas Adams
Like many southern farmers, the Adams family got its start in agriculture by growing cotton. That was until the dreaded boll weevil beetle hit the region in the 1920s and devastated the cotton crop. Out of necessity, the family began growing peanuts to make up for the loss and has continued to grow them since.
Today, Thomas Adams has 800 acres each of peanuts and cotton on his Newville, Alabama farm. As a third-generation peanut farmer, Thomas couldn’t imagine growing anything else.
“Peanuts were profitable for my father and grandfather. I am certain without peanuts this farm would not be in operation today,” Thomas said. “That’s one of the reasons I decided to continue growing them. As the old saying goes, ‘peanuts brought me to the dance, so I’m going to dance with the one who brought me.’”
Peanuts aren’t the only family tradition passed down through the years. As long as Thomas can remember, there have always been three generations working side by side, starting with his great grandfather. Currently, Thomas and his father run the farm with help from his teenage son, and everyone has a sweet spot for another family favorite: peanut butter bars.
“My mother received the recipe years ago. It’s so simple and quick that at most family meals, if we have a sweet treat, you can bet it’s going to be peanut butter bars,” said Thomas. “The best foods are memories. You eat it and it takes you back to another time. That’s what this recipe does for me.”
But, Thomas’ favorite part about being a peanut grower isn’t the tasty treats that come along with it.
“I most love harvest time. The smell of fresh peanuts being dug out of the ground, peanuts curing in the field before combining, and then the dust from the combines,” Thomas said. “Between the dust and the aroma of cured peanuts in the air, you don’t have to actually see a field being harvested. Your senses will let you know it’s harvest time.”
Thomas’ love for peanuts is deeply rooted in his family’s history, but he’s also incredibly optimistic about the future.
“The quality and sustainability of our crops are light years ahead of other countries,” he said. “And now, because of the recent allergy research recommending the introduction of peanut butter to infants and toddlers, there’s a positive attitude among parents which we hope will lead to increased enjoyment of this very healthy food.”