He’s been growing his own nursery stock since fifth grade.
Now local farmer John Adam Turner has the chance to bring home a national FFA title in fruit proficiency.
The competition is set for Oct. 31 in Louisville, Ky., where Turner will compete against three other national finalists. Turner is a WCHS graduate and current sophomore at Tennessee Tech majoring in agribusiness. The three other finalists are from Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin.
“The national convention is a golden opportunity for kids to sell themselves and develop some good business contacts,” said former Warren County FFA advisor Russell Watson, who worked with Turner in high school and serves as a national FFA judge. “I think he has an excellent chance to win. Last year he made the finals in extemporaneous speaking.”
Turner has been growing orchards since fifth grade when he was given the opportunity to grow peach trees at his family business, Turner and Sons Nursery, in the Dibrell area. He has also grown apples with his current emphasis on strawberries.
“I started with a quarter of an acre of strawberries and now it’s up to 10 acres,” said Turner. “It’s pretty labor intensive when you factor in all the work involved in picking and cleaning the strawberries. You can count on a quart of strawberries from every plant and I have around 80,000 to 90,000 plants.”
Turner said he has always known farming is a life he wanted to pursue, having grown up on a family farm consisting of nursery stock and livestock. Turner said his parents gave him a chance to make a difference in the operation and that’s when he began to pursue growing fruit.
Turner, now 19, got his start in 2004 when he borrowed money from his father to buy 50,000 peach seeds. He used profits from his first growing season to pay back his father and develop a savings account.
“From that point forward, I used savings from previous years to buy any of the supplies that I needed,” said Turner.
By 2010, Turner had saved enough to purchase a John Deere tractor and he hires laborers at $8 an hour as needed during harvest season. Turner says he continues to invest money into his farm operation and is using some of his savings to fund his college education.
As he attains his current goals, Turner says he is setting new goals for himself.
“I have the desire to be the largest strawberry producer in Tennessee,” said Turner. “I want to expand my orchard to 25 acres over the next 10 years. I want to one day have my own market selling all types of fruit and vegetables. I would like to branch out selling to large grocery chains.”
John Adam is the son of John and Terri Turner.