By Fred Woods
Young’s Plant Farm was named 2016 Lee County Farm of Distinction by the Lee County Farm-City Committee.The award, made at last November’s annual Farm-City banquet held at Lazenby Farms, each year recognizes an outstanding Lee County farm, not only to recognize the farm’s operators, but to remind all county citizens that agriculture continues to be a major contributor to the county’s economy as well as our way of life.
Young’s Plant Farm exemplifies today’s modern commercial agriculture and, at the same time, reminds us that Alabama’s family farms can still thrive and compete in the modern world.
This family business is a greenhouse floriculture business located just west of Auburn that operates in Lee County and throughout the southeastern United States, growing flowers and ornamental plants for home, business and industrial landscaping.
It’s cutting edge high tech, but make no mistake it’s a farm. It’s about growing things. It’s agriculture at its finest. As their web-site says, it’s a by-the-numbers operation: five decades in business; three generations operate it; but one guiding sentiment: growing the best plants for its customers
Begun by Gene and Avis Young right here in Lee County in the early 1960s, it started as a family farm and it remains a family farm today. All four of Avis’ and Gene’s children, Rob, Greg, Burt and Cale, grew up in the family business and; in recent years have been joined by two of the grandsons, Bryan and Drew.
Young’s operates 1.65 million square feet of environmentally controlled green house space — that’s 38 acres under cover, dear readers — and an additional 34 acres devoted to outside growing. The growing space is divided among three locations; two here locally and one in Andrews, N.C. (western North Carolina). They produce ornamental bedding plants, plugs, propagation material and flowering potted plants.
Young’s Plant Farm is ranked as one of the 40 largest greenhouse growers in the U.S. It recently received a rarely-awarded “A” Certification from the international MPS certification Board for outstanding efforts in environmentally sustainable practices in areas such as waste water retention and reuse, and growing with energy efficient greenhouse systems.
Gene Young passed away three years ago, in 2013, but his impact is still felt across the U.S. horticulture. Not only did he lead Young’s Plant Farm toward the success it is today, many of the innovations in use in the industry today resulted from his hard work and ingenuity. He was truly a pioneer and a person of whom Lee County, in addition to his family, can take pride.