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Chatham County honers new inductees into its Agriculture Hall of Fame awards

Posted Monday, May 9, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - At a special event on March 8, 2011, Chatham County inducted three new individuals or groups into its Agriculture Hall of Fame Awards. The awards program recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the county’s agriculture economy in the past 60 years.

Family members of three new inductees for the Chatham County Agriculture Hall of Fame gathered on March 8, 2011, to posthumously celebrate their contributions.

Front Row (from the left): Marion Wren, Margaret de St Aubin, Christine Wrenn Dycus, Sharon Clapp, Danette Clapp, Edwin Clapp, Al Clapp, Cheryl Powers, Jean Reeves and Ann Larsen.

Back Row (from the left): Jerry Dycus, Vicki Wrenn, Franklin Lafayette (Buddy) Wrenn, Jr, Tim Clapp, Laura Clapp, Diane Haire and Melissa Raley.

The Agriculture Hall of Farm Awards were developed by the Agriculture Advisory Board and approved by the Board of County Commissioners last year. The inaugural event in 2010 included six inductees.

“I commend all of tonight’s honorees and their families,” said County Commissioner Pam Stewart, who serves as liaison to the Agriculture Advisory Board. “I have been involved in agriculture in some way all of my life and I know firsthand the hard work required, often with little recognition. These pioneers helped make agriculture a vital part of our economy, which it remains today.”

Charlie Bolton and Clarence Durham, advisory board members, presented the individual awards, but all winners are listed on a large plaque that hangs in the lobby of the Agriculture Auditorium in Pittsboro.

Tommy Emerson, former county commissioner and advisory board member, played a key role in initiating the awards. “We have so many worthy people in our county. I hate that so many are now deceased, but I am pleased that we now have the opportunity to thank those who played such a key role in our rich agricultural history.”

The honorees inducted on March 8 are:

DAIRY PRODUCTION—Thomas L. Reeves (deceased)

Thomas L. Reeves made his mark as a dairyman committed to efforts to improve herd production and breeding. He helped found two local organizations involved in this work, the Chatham County Dairy Herd Improvement Association and the Chatham County Cooperative Breeder’s Association.

At the local level, Reeves served as president of the Chatham County Farm Bureau and on the board of two banks, with the goal of promoting dairy production to bankers. He also frequently hosted pre-school children on his dairy farm and his family gardens.

Reeves’ list of state and regional leadership is extensive. As part of the Northern Piedmont Area Development Association, he helped a seven-county area increase its agriculture product value over five years. He also served on the steering committee of the North Central Piedmont Resource Conservation & Development Committee.

Reeves co-chaired the statewide Farm-City Celebration in 1969, an event focused on promoting better understanding between rural and urban residents. He spoke on behalf of farmers during the state’s Farm and Home Week in June of 1954.

Reeves was involved in several key activities at N.C. State University, including serving on the executive committee of its Agricultural Foundation and on the advisory committee for its Animal Science Department. He often advised dairy students at N.C. State and gave them tours of his operation.

Through several statewide dairy and milk production organizations, Reeves supported efforts to enhance promotion of dairy products and dairy research. He was a long-time member of two milk cooperatives, Longmeadow Farms and Dairymen Inc.

At the national level, Reeves served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s advisory committee on animal and animal products research.

CHATHAM POULTRY FARMS, INC: Clyde Fore, William M. Wren and Lafayette Wrenn (all deceased)

In 1938, Clyde Fore, William M. Wren and Lafayette Wrenn launched the area’s first contract poultry production operation, initially as part of Siler City Mills. The initiative began when Fore, who was general manager of Siler City Mills, visited a Maryland poultry facility, which was the birthplace of contract poultry production.

Fore believed that the concept would be successful in this area as a way to help boost revenues during the Depression. William M. Wren, who was owner and president ofSiler City Mills, agreed and they started the contract poultry operation with Lafayette Wrenn as its manager. The first contract farmer was Willie Hart in Rives Chapel.

The partners created a separate corporation for the operation in 1942 and named it Chatham Poultry Farms, Inc. It served as a successful model of contract poultry production in the state and the southeastern United States.

It remained in operation until 1974 when it merged with another company that eventually became Perdue Farms in 1985,

CLAPP BROTHERS TRACTOR: Sam Clapp and Ed Clapp (both deceased)

Sam Clapp and Ed Clapp represent examples of successful agribusiness owners. Clapp Brothers Tractor has been a major source of tractors, farm implements and lawn equipment for over 70 years in Chatham and surrounding counties.

Sam Clapp co-founded Clapp Brothers Tractor in 1937, but bought out his partner one year later. He later sold the successful business to his cousin Ed.

Ed Clapp managed the business until the late 1990s, gaining the love and respect of the farming community for his “unfailing honesty and kindness.” Bobby Lou Rives, who worked at Clapp Brothers Tractor for 40 years, said that he never once heard a customer complaint about Ed, who died in 2006.

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