June 2016
Youth Matters

Agricultural Entrepreneurs

 

Zack Smith and Trey Colley may be young, but their farming business is already off to a great start.

  Zack Smith and Trey Colley are ready to deliver some watermelons.

Zack Smith is currently a senior at Auburn University studying Agricultural Economics. Zack is also an agricultural entrepreneur.

Rewinding back to high school, Zack began working with his Uncle Paul when he was in the ninth grade. Paul Smith is the owner and operator of Smith Farms that is primarily a row crop operation in Montevallo. Zack had been working on the farm a couple of years when he began selling produce at the local farmers’ market. Soon after, Paul offered Zack the use of his land and equipment to start up his own business of selling produce locally.

While at football practice one day, Zack approached his good friend Trey Colley about working with him to start up this produce division at the farm. So a partnership began. Their junior and senior years of high school, Zack and Trey would work growing their vegetables. They planted okra, sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, green beans, pink eyed peas, purple hull peas, cantaloupe and watermelon. The two boys sold their produce to the local grocery store, community friends and at the local farmers’ market.

When Zack and Trey graduated from high school, they were both accepted to Auburn University. Zack began working toward his Ag Econ degree and Trey began studying Biosystems Engineering. Both are currently research assistants for Auburn University’s Soil and Agronomy Department.

Even with their current jobs and schedules, Zack and Trey have continued and expanded their business. They are using their profits to help pay for their college and living expenses. They now sell bulk to some local farmers, work three farmers’ markets and sell to the local grocery store. Zack said they are growing much more sweet corn, their best seller.

Zack’s sister, Kayla Smith, a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute and soon to be student at Ohio Christian University, helps at the farmers’ markets. Trey’s sister, Emily Colley, a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute and a current student at Auburn University, also helps with selling at the farmers’ markets along with selling her delicious fruit cobblers. The two sisters have been helping since they were in high school.

  Left, family and friends help during the growing season. Above, Zack Smith and Trey Colley at one of the three farmers’ markets where they sell produce.

Trey’s younger brother, Clay, has been working for the business since he was in middle school.

All of these brothers and sisters are past or present members of their schools’ FFA chapter. Smith Farms Produce division even employs a few friends to help out when the crops come in.

Trey graduated May 2016 and Zack will graduate fall 2016. Trey will be heading to Ohio State for graduate school.

These boys were given an opportunity at a young age and were disciplined enough to work hard, overcome hardships (yes ... farming is hard work and dependent on nature) and turn a gift into a successful business. These boys are now men who are on their way to making a living in the agricultural industry and to making a difference by continuing to learn about the field they have been involved with since they were kids. These men are making their future and, no doubt, will have continued success.

This year, Zack and Trey are adding to their operation by offering a monthly CSA box that rotates seasonal produce at a set monthly fee. Check out their Facebook page, Smith Farms Produce Division, for more information or you can contact Zack at 205-215-9997. You can also visit them at the Alabaster, Montevallo and Mt. Laurel Farmers’ Markets.

Cindy Boyd is a freelance writer from Montevallo.