Mr. Vernon Dasher is likely one of the kindest men you will ever meet. Born and raised in Glennville, Vernon married his wife, Kathy, very young. They have two grown children, Jake and Jeanie, and they are all pillars of the Tattnall County community today.
Vernon’s dad, Vernon Sr., was a merchant in Glennville and left several operating businesses to Vernon Jr. when he passed in 1975. Vernon inherited the grocery story, a farm supply, and a small slaughter house, but they slowly dwindled and Vernon went back to farming full time because he didn’t believe that the business side was his forte. He is driven to farm and his dream was always for his son to farm with him, too.
His son, Jake Dasher, was around the farming operation most of his childhood from a young age and he only left to work at Georgia Poultry for two years before deciding there was no other life for him. He and his dad have been working together the farming operation ever since. Both of their hearts are deeply rooted in agriculture.
They balance each other well, too. Jake is more willing to try new technologies and take risks, whereas, Vernon is a little more reserved and hesitant. It’s probably an age thing, they say.
Vernon got started in agriculture because his dad farmed part-time. Vernon tended tobacco and had seven acres of his own. That grew to about twenty acres of tobacco in addition to roughly 400 acres of row crops of soybeans and corn, and a small hog operation – which wrapped up in the late 1990’s.
Nowadays, it’s 330 acres of cotton and peanuts – both of which go to Southeastern Gin in Surrency- with chicken houses contracted with Claxton Poultry. Vernon and Jake each have four houses. Vernon says when he started with chicken houses in 1992, it was the first stable income he had ever had. Jake and Vernon also have about 100 cattle. The diversity of the income has been helpful, but it keeps them all busy – especially trying to balance it with family.
Much of farming has changed since Vernon got started. He says that while there are many things he would do differently if he had the opportunity to go back and try again, his real priority would be to make a better effort to be where God wanted him to be at the times He wanted him to be there. Mr. Vernon believes his success is because of his strong faith in God and the grace he has seen in an unending abundance.
The community is another blessing for Tattnall County farmers. Vernon feels the community is rich in support and love of the land, even though many of the people he deals with are in agriculture. He finds himself lucky to live where everyone understands the value of a farmer.
But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. His worst year is recounted as if it just happened yesterday:
“In 1986, on July 13th, a Sunday, about 2:00 p.m., it came a hail storm like I’ve never seen in my life. We had picked tobacco one time out of the six and during the time, half the crop leaves were on the ground and half had been picked. The hail destroyed the crop with no crop insurance. Nothing. I could not see a way out. But thank The Lord I’m talking about the past tense because He got us through it. But it was a very memorable time when we lost that tobacco. People were driving by the fields just staring at the damage.”
What happened next is heartwarming.
Without being asked, his neighbor Merriel Durrence showed up the next morning with his crews to help salvage what could be saved. Instead of having 40 or 50 barns of tobacco, there were just three, but the year carried on because of God’s grace, Vernon says. It also helped that there was a little bit of timber on his back lands and his hog operation to supplement some of the shortfall.
Vernon knows what it takes to be a good farmer, even though he may not admit it. He says the three things a person needs to be a good farmer include having 1) a strong faith in God, 2) a love and appreciation for farming and the land, and 3) a willingness to live within your means. He says he’s never “gone” from work, though, and good farmers have to be okay with that, too.
His favorite thing about farming is that “you do your very best, and then you wait for The Lord to help you through it. If He decides to send a hail storm, He’s got grace somewhere else that will get you through it. But is hard to remember that when you’re in the middle of it. But you’re working with The Lord.”
It may be hard to remember that, and many other things, but Vernon does and he loves it and that’s why he plans on doing it for the rest of his years.
Vernon Dasher was nominated by Tony Kennedy. His ‘Farm of the Month’ article is available here. Mr. Vernon nominated Merriel Durrence for the December ‘Farm of the Month’ for All On Georgia – Tattnall.