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Evans Local Spotlight

Farm of the Month: DELRAY Farms

Mr. Delmas Hendrix, Mr. Ray Todd, and Mr. Matt Todd gathered around a kitchen table on a dreary rainy January day to discuss their farming roots. Between the three of them, they have nearly 100 years of experience in agriculture. Family by marriage, Mr. Ray Todd is married to Mr. Delmas’ daughter, Pam. Matt Todd is his son.

There are few places one could go in Evans County where the Hendrix and Todd names aren’t highly regarded. Mr. Delmas still owns land in Evans County that’s been in the family over 100 years. The land that’s being farmed today was purchased by Mr. Delmas’ daddy in 1934. He grew up tending corn, soybeans, peanuts, tobacco, and even watermelons every now and again. Combined, it was about 250 acres.

Mr. Ray Todd grew up around farming as well, and following high school, he went into farming with his daddy, Charlie Todd. They started Hendrix Todd farms, tending peanuts, corn, soybeans, and tobacco on nearly 200 acres.  Unfortunately, Mr. Ray lost his daddy early in life, but he and his seven siblings were left 125 acres of land, most of which Mr. Ray maintains today. After the untimely passing of Mr. Charlie, Mr. Ray and Mr. Delmas teamed up for DELRAY Farms, Inc.

Matt Todd remembers driving the tobacco picker when he was nine and while he briefly left farming to work for UPS, he was quick to return and doesn’t have plans to do anything other than farming again. Matt says he can’t stand to be inside for too long and loves farming with his family. He’s been working officially since 1997.

For all three, they say it’s all they ever wanted to do.

Mr. Delmas believes farming gave his family a good life, though they never knew anything else. He shared the story of when he married his late wife, Mrs. Peggy. They were married on a Saturday, rested on Sunday for a honeymoon, and picked cotton together on Monday morning. The Hendrix bunch, Steve, Penny, and Pam, was also nearly self-sustainable on their own farm.

Except for 1954, that was Mr. Delmas’ most difficult year. He said with no rain, it was the driest season he ever saw with crops that barely produced anything. When asked how he made ends meet, he said, “I just started again the next year.” The tough year cycled through again after Mr. Ray teamed up with Mr. Delmas. 1980 brought a terrible season of dryness and prices on most commodities were abysmal.

The hard years are cancelled out by the good ones. Mr. Ray loves the equipment and reaping what he sows. Matt said there’s nothing better than walking in from a long day and turning around to look at the fields, knowing you did it. For Mr. Delmas, the reward was simple: “I loved seeing what The Lord would let me do with the land.”

Farming has evolved significantly and Mr. Delmas has seen so much of it. From a single mule to the equipment that costs more than some homes, he’s watched it all transform into huge farming operations. Mr. Ray says farming has become more complicated and the input has changed the game. A bad year used to set farmers back for a year or two, but now, a tough year can put them under for good. The small family farms, they all agreed, are probably a thing of the past. Because of the boom for those input costs, the number of farmers in Evans County has dwindled.

The Evans County community of farmers is pretty tight-knit. They support each other, offer advice, and lend a helping hand. While the three were discussing the dynamic, you could sense a sort of allegiance to their neighboring farmers over those outside of the county. After all, Evans County is its own animal, economically and agriculturally, and the roots run deep.

It seems one of the biggest disappointments to both Mr. Delmas and Mr. Ray is that business deals have become formalized over the years. DELRAY Farms has been renting a tract of land on a handshake agreement since 1968, something you just don’t see anymore.

Across three generations, they’ve learned so much from each other. Mr. Ray says the most important thing he learned from Mr. Delmas was to ‘work hard and do what you say you’re going to do.’ Your word will precede you, something that Mr. Ray takes very seriously because he’s experienced it himself. He shared how the reputation and respect of his late father allowed him to get his very first loan decades ago. It wasn’t the income or word of Mr. Ray, but the legacy and trustworthiness of his father.

They joked around the table the Matt is the most open-minded when it comes to trying new things and experimenting. Mr. Ray is somewhere in the middle and Mr. Delmas is the most resistant. That’s to be expected.

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(L-R: Ray Todd, Steve Hendrix, Matt Todd, FRONT: Delmas Hendrix)

One of the blessings of the interview was that Mr. Steve Hendrix was present, Mr. Delmas’ son. He doesn’t have an interest in farming, but has watched for years as all of the men in his family tended the land. When asked what he thought, he said, “It was a wonderful way to grow up, but they work too hard for what they get. I’ve worked for companies and I worked hard, but they work harder. They don’t get what they deserve. But they keep doing it.” It was clear that Steve is proud of the life he, Pam, and Penny (now Kennedy) grew up knowing.

Blended families through marriage, you would never know. They are lockstep and loyal, and you can sense that sitting around the table with them. That isn’t surprising since Matt feels the most valuable lesson he learned from his dad has been the ‘family and togetherness’ – something he is working hard to teach his children, too.

Now, Mr. Ray and his son Matt have several chicken houses, 100 head of cows, and tend about 1,100 acres of land, as one could imagine, keeps them busy year round.

These days, Mr. Delmas says he only farms when they ‘really need him or want him’ out there, but in his mind he hasn’t stopped. Even so, he misses it every day.

 

Mr. Ray and Mrs. Pam also have a daughter, Amy – married to Richard May. They have one son. Matt Todd is married to Angela (Ward) Todd. They have a daughter and son.


 

Delray Farms was nominated by Hub Daniels. Mr. Ray Todd, Mr. Delmas Hendrix, and Mr. Matt Todd nominated Edward Tucker for the February ‘Farm of the Month’ for ‘All On Georgia -Evans.’

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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