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Candler Local Spotlight

Farm of the Month: Wallie Waters

Wallie Waters has been farming off and on for most of his life. He had taken some time off here and there, but always comes back around. Just recently he got that itch again. He relates the drive to farm like addiction to drugs and rehab: it’s always there and you always want to.

A native of Candler County with roots in both Tattnall and Evans counties, he was born in Candler when his parents moved from Blackshear. After his dad came out of the Navy after World War II and ended up in Pierce County, he met Wallies mother and they decided to start a life together in Candler County because the family owned acreage around Metter. They moved to Candler where his father had around 600 acres, and grew both tobacco and cotton with roughly 30,000 laying hens and a couple hundred cows. Wallie grew up helping his dad with the hens and eggs long before there was a Claxton Poultry – selling eggs for $0.10/dozen.

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Wallie graduated high school in 1967 and was drafted in the Vietnam War. He left his one brother in town with family while he was gone for a year and a day. He returned from Vietnam and farmed for a few years before realizing farming wasn’t for him – at least at the time. He went into the chicken business where he worked himself up the ranks and traveled around the southeast until the mid-1990’s.

That’s when he started growing squash – about 25 acres of squash to be exact. Much of his daddy’s land is still inWallie Waters2 the family, but his granddaddy, Henry Jones, owned the land Wallie tends squash on now. Wallie’s share is about 170 acres worth – much of which he rents- and he’s content with that. All he’s looking for, he says, is a place to tend land, which keeps him alive, and be buried when the time comes along.

When it’s picking season, he’s out there every other day picking squash himself. He boxes and delivers  his squash to J&S Produce in Mt. Vernon, but produce has high standards of quality and detail. 10% of what he grows -close to 1,000 pounds a week -cannot be sold because it is either too big or too small. He donates some of it to Second Harvest of South Georgia and gives the rest of the ‘waste’ to area cows.

Next year, he’s planning on planting 40 acres of squash and giving peas a try, too. Always aiming for a little bit more, Wallie says, “I go big on the squash front.”

Wallie is a testament to what a small farmer can do. He says he has to do what he does or he would have been dead many years ago. Staying busy and active with his crops keeps him alive and healthy. If you ask him when he plans on quitting, he’ll tell you when they cart him off to the funeral home – he loves it that much.

 


As the October ‘Farm of the Month’ for All On Georgia – Candler, Wallie Waters is responsible for nominating the November “Farm of the Month.” He selected Rooks Bird of Metter, who not only farms, but attends Georgia Southern University as well.

 

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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