Advocate for Gross Farms

The Farm Family of the Day program recognizes 11 farm families – one for every day of the N.C. State Fair – who work hard every day to impact our state’s agriculture industry. Families either nominated themselves or were nominated by members of the community. Thanks to Tractor Supply Company for sponsoring the program, which will run from Oct. 13-23.

Gross Farms in Sanford grow a large variety of crops including flue-cured tobacco, which is their main crop, rye, soybeans, asparagus, strawberries, pumpkins, and more. Gross Farms has been farming for over a century and the current family is the sixth generation.

John and Tina Gross run the farm with their children and grandchildren next in line. John and Tina’s oldest son, Cody, is married to Brynn Gross and Finnley, their daughter, will be the next generation to run the farm. MaKayla Gross, who is engaged to Wesley Souther, is John and Tina’s oldest daughter. MaKayla helps her parents with GAP paperwork while Wesley works on the farm full time. Colton Gross, John and Tina’s second born son, is married to Harris Gross and they have a six-month-old boy named Bo, after his grandfather John. Colton works full-time on the farm while Harris runs a videography business to showcase local farm history and share insight of the daily life on the farm. John and Tina’s youngest daughter, Kassidy Gross is a senior in high school and she helps in agritourism, the produce barn in the spring, and they corn maze in the fall.

The family emphasizes outreaches to the community by leaning into agritourism. Each spring, Gross Farms open a strawberry patch and produce stand. They offer fresh produce, pre-picked strawberries, and “u-pick” strawberries. In the fall, Gross Farms open their corn maze and pumpkin patch. Visitors to the farm can enjoy a hayride around the farm while listening to information about the farm, how it started, and the current crops they are growing. During the fall, the farm has a corn maze. In 2017, the corn maze showcased “so God made a farmer” and in 2019, the showcase was, “visit NC farms.” This years, Gross Farms plan on showcases a tribute to the troops.

Gross Farms just wrapped up their very first “Waves of Grain Music Festival,” which allowed people from across the state to enjoy the live music and scenery on the farm. Food trucks and vendors from across Sanford County participated in the festival as well.

With no vacations or down time, farming is one of the hardest careers that you can have. As John Gross says, “it has to be in your blood.” Harris Gross states, “Farming is not for everyone. It’s back-breaking, never-ending work. But this farm family looks forward to getting up early each morning, putting our boots on, and pushing through because it’s what we love.” It takes a unique person to persevere through the daily toils of farming, and Gross Farms has a family full of these types of people!

The Gross Farm family absolutely loves a good fried funnel cake, but who doesn’t? Gross Farm family also enjoys watching the agricultural community gather on the N.C. State fairgrounds to enjoy the fruits of each other’s labor. The family noted a huge appreciation to the connection between the N.C. State Fair and Tractor Supply Co. They believe that the connection between the two has allowed for an increased amount of advocacy for the current farming generations, and for the generations to come.

If you see the Gross Farm Family enjoying deep fried funnel cakes at the fairgrounds today, be sure to thank them for their perseverance throughout the past century! We are honored to name Gross Farms as the Farm Family of the Day for October 14th. We look forward to watching the sixth and seventh generations of Gross Farms continue to contribute, advocate, and impact the agricultural community here in North Carolina for years to come!

About Angel McWilliams

Hi! My name is Angel McWilliams, and I am a senior at South Johnston High School. I am in IDEAL Academy, which is an early college program that will allow me to have an associate degree in science when I graduate. I attend Johnston Community College and the University of Mount Olive to fulfill my class requirements. I am overjoyed to have an internship with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. State Fair! I cannot wait to see y’all on the fairgrounds this year but be sure to read along with each Farm Family of the Day that this program represents!

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