Ad Spot

Farm family: Nunleys’ Vina farm ranks among top in state

FRANKLIN LIVING MAY/JUNE 2018 — Gannon and Kristin Nunley first began farming operations in Franklin County in May 2012. Just six years later, they are among the top three farm families in the state.

Announced as finalists in the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family contest in March, the Nunleys are now “sprucing up” their 72 acres in anticipation of a visit by a panel of judges this summer, who will select the OYFF winner. “We want to be best foot forward,” said Gannon. “At the same time, we are working farm. It’s not all sunshine and roses.”

The working farm boasts six poultry houses – producing more than 100,000 chicks every 60 days – as well as cattle. “We’re a very small operation compared to a lot of these guys,” said Gannon. “The whole drive of the contest is to see who’s the most productive. Who’s showing growth?”

Their passion for farming developed and grew despite lack of family background in the industry. Neither Gannon nor Kristin’s parents were farmers – although when the Nunleys moved from Red Bay to their Vina farm six years ago, her parents decided to fall in step and take up poultry farming right alongside them. For Gannon, his interest was cultivated by being on friends’ farms as a child. In high school he got involved with FFA and began working in the horse business, progressing to showing horses and raising colts. “I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I got here as fast as I could,” Gannon said.

An FFA adviser at Hamilton High School, where she teaches agriscience, Kristin’s interest in ag has come full circle – the seed of it planted when she herself was an FFA student. “I was really inspired at the high school level. We had a fantastic ag teacher and FFA adviser, Herbert Trulove (at Red Bay High School),” Kristin said. I just thought I wanted to be a part of it.” In her words, “crooked paths” led her to her own family farm; she first majored in pre-pharmacy before deciding to commit to agriculture with an animal science degree at Auburn University.

Like most big dreams that become reality, the Nunley family farm began as just an idea they would talk about.

“We had said we would love to have a small farm, to begin with, to mess with a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” Kristin said. They knew buying and establishing a farm would be a big investment, but the talking finally came to fruition when they were able to amass the capital and connect with the right people to purchase a piece of property in Vina along Bear Creek. “The good Lord above just opened the door for us to be able to buy this operation. It was just like we were meant to be here.”

The Nunleys’ lives are all about agriculture, day in and day out. “It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week for us,” Kristin said. Even their children – Cooper, a 7-year-old rising third-grader at Red Bay, and Adalie, 4, who will start Red Bay Pre-K in August – get in on the family business. “Cooper is my equipment man – anything that involves motorized equipment, he’s all about it. He can run just about any of it,” Gannon said. “My little girl, she’s my animal lover.”

“Baby chick day is celebration day on the farm,” Kristin added. Both the children love animals, especially their pony. “We’re hoping to someday introduce them to the show world, with livestock.”

The Nunleys are also agriculture and rural farm life advocates, dedicating their time to organizations like the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association. Outside of farming, they are also active in their faith – involved in the music ministry at Red Bay Freewill Baptist, where Gannon is a chairman on the board of trustees, and Kristin is on the shower committee. Gannon is also a Gideon.

Although farming is a passion, it’s also a business – and a challenging one. Gannon said, given the tenacity it takes to be successful in farming, being nominated as a finalist in the OYFF competition was validating and rewarding.

“It’s run like any other business. We have Mother Nature to contend with, which is always unpredictable. With things like they are, markets and commodities, it’s tough right now. It’s hard on everybody. To be able to be showing some growth and a little bit of profit – it’s a really good thing,” Gannon said. “It’s nice to get a pat on the back every now and again.”

But what perhaps drives them the most is their own love for the business and their conviction that they are doing exactly what they’re meant to be doing.

“We were given this task to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with, and what more humble way can you do that than to put your hands in the dirt and take care of it hands on?” Kristin said. “We give all the credit to the good Lord above because he opened all these doors for us. He obviously has a purpose for us being here. We hang all our hopes, every day, that God has a reason for this. We just do it the best we can.”

Kristin also espouses the joy to be found being close to nature – “being able to put my hands on something that is so complex yet so simple at the same time and just knowing God created that and put that here for us to take care of and enjoy” – as well as being a part of providing food for the people of the world. “There is one more mouth that gets fed every day that we do this … That’s the one thing that keep us going every day.”

For Gannon, it’s all tied up in “the satisfaction of getting to see everything full circle” – calves to grown cattle and chicks to chickens. “You can look out across the pasture at the end of the day at the sun setting, and everything makes sense,” he said. “Take a breath and look around. It’s a simple way of life, and I like that.”

It’s a simple way of life they would recommend to anyone.

“You don’t have to come from it to get into it, and you don’t have to be the largest to be successful and make a living at it,” Gannon added. “It’s there for the taking.”

The winning 2018 Outstanding Young Farm Family will be announced at the Federation’s 46th Commodity Producers Conference in Montgomery Aug. 4.


Story by Alison James / Photos by Cortney Green

News

BTCPA stages ‘Bad Year for Tomatoes’

Franklin County

County takes needed steps to continue broadband expansion

News

Russellville High School holds Community Partnership Breakfast to connect with community

News

Sign up now for youth rec sports through March 1

News

Russellville club names Bob Seeley Civitan of Year

Franklin County

New year brings official end to concealed carry permit requirement

Franklin County

Schools recognize Franklin County Board of Education

Columnists

Book Lovers Study Club submits 2022 reports

News

RHS alum receives Keller Key at UNA

Franklin County

Cattlemen convene for annual banquet

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen hires football coach for fledgling program

News

City approves temporary fire department promotions

Franklin County

Commission decides to request bids for elevator maintenance

News

Whimsical window art brightens RPL

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen gets football coach

Franklin County

Martin Luther King commemorative march takes place in downtown Russellville

Franklin County

New district attorney swears in

Franklin County

Cattlemen’s Association prepares for annual meeting

News

Russellville Public Library director speaks at Book Lovers meeting

Franklin County

Vina native returns to hometown church to share her story

Franklin County

Couple continues annual Christmas jail ministry

News

City officials reflect on old year, look toward new

Franklin County

MLK march returns to Russellville this year, set for Jan. 16

News

Council approves additional funding for Cramer Children’s Center

x