Farmer grows surprising crop to educate kids

10:13 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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Generations of East Tennesseans have made their living working the land. But for years, US Census data has shown that fewer people are choosing farming as a career path.

According to the EPA, 40% of US farmers are 55 years old, or older.

One Greenback farmer is hoping to help energize a new generation of farmers. 

Mitchell Hyde wants to show kids where cotton really comes from.

"Kids nowadays think everything comes from the grocery store or Walmart," said Hyde. "We had children out here from school last fall and I asked them where cotton comes from. Almost immediately it was 'Walmart, Walmart!'"

You can't blame them really, cotton is a rare crop in these parts.

In fact, Hyde believes he's the only farmer growing it east of Nashville.

But he says their responses are an alarming trend that show a disconnect between younger generations and the natural world.

He offers educational field trips for school groups at his Greenback farm and hopes the novelty of cotton will attract more visitors.

"'Bought as close to nature as I fell like you can get is really trying to grow something in the dirt," said Hyde. "What I hope the future of farming would be that we could someday make a good living at it."

But it's unlikely all the fluffy white buds will have him seeing green. He says he knows the future of cotton is limited in a region without a cotton gin.

The goal he says is to inspire kids with the crop, not cash in.

For more information on Hyde Farms click here.

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