BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The term “Salt of the Earth” could have been created just to describe Wesley Hale. And the Earth, is his livelihood.
He’s a Chilton County peach farmer. Well not just peaches. He’s growing strawberries, collard greens, and even some mums this fall. He’s open to new ideas, but holds tight to his roots. He says those roots, are why he’s able to farm in the first place. His family has been farming on the land where he stands for generations.
“This is almost one hundred years in the making because this has been passed down the line from family members,” says Hale with admiration. “The only reason we have an awesome collard crop… is because my grandfather and uncles and cousins were on this farm before we were and they have a well over there that we would never dream of having, that’s been in place for who knows how long so we were able to flip a switch and water everything.”
The water, the earth, the weather. All variables that his family depend on.
“Everything is a weather thing,” says Hale.
“Peaches have to have a certain amount of rest, kind of like people, We have to rest at some point, they have to rest,” explains Hale. “If we get enough chill hours the tress produce more peaches, and they will be more uniform.”
They planted collard greens in the dark of night because of the high heat this August. He just got married this spring, and when a hale storm hit, he jumped up from bed with his new bride to run check on his budding “baby” strawberry plants.
“Fresh strawberries here is such a short season, it’s like 10 weeks. You have to have perfect kind of weather for them and there’s not a lot of varieties that grow well here,” says Hale. “I want people to know that they are getting something fresh that hasn’t been shopped 1000 miles across the country, that was picked that morning.”
Those strawberry plants, not in the thousands, and he says that’s all because of his Grandfather.
“This started off 4 years ago, my grandfather said you oughta plant some strawberries,” says Hale. “This piece of property is 3 times older than me that it’s been in our family and got passed down to me,” he says sweeping his arm over the strawberry field behind him. “It’s not because we just woke up one day and decided hey let’s go get this land and farm.”
It’s one of the things he wants people to know about farming, it’s passed down through generations.
“They left the farm in better shape each time. And now we’ve got it. I hope by the time I have kids if they are interested in farming, I will leave it better shape to make their life easier. That’s the way I look at it.”