Valdosta Daily Times

July 3, 2013

The freedom of working the land

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Farming is more than a job for Tony and Shirley Mallory, it is a way of life.

The Mallorys, owners of Mallory’s Farm, have been growing and selling blueberries for almost 30 years. However, the Mallorys didn’t want to just stop at blueberries, so they now offer a variety of fruits and vegetables and several canned goods.

Shirley was born and raised on the same farm that she currently owns, though back in the day, it was called the Moore family farm. The farm has been in her family since the 1800s; handed down through the generations from her great grandparents.

While Shirley has held a few other jobs during her life, the majority of her time has been dedicated to farming.

“I feel privileged to have grown up on a farm. I didn’t like it when I was younger … working in the hot sun and picking and canning. Now I appreciate it more and more.”

Tony, originally from West Virginia, moved to Georgia with the Air Force when he was younger. During his time serving, he met Shirley and the two have been married for 48 years. After serving in the Air Force for four years, Tony was a welder for various companies before working full-time at the farm.

The Mallorys have raised their three children, Dale, Jimmy and Chad, on the farm and are now raising four grandchildren on the farm.

“Raising kids on the farm, they were able to ride their bikes and play on the farm and have a good time,” Shirley said. “There have been a lot of changes around here in the last 10 years or so with all of the subdivisions and restaurants coming in. I don’t know any other life than living on the farm and my kids are the same way.”

Mallory’s Farm offers a lot more than just produce. The Mallorys have made their farm into a family-friendly and fun place for children to come and learn about farming. The farm hosts many groups of children each year including community clubs and school field trips.

“We enjoy the kids coming by,” Tony said. “A lot of them have never seen cows or horses and it is really a thrill to see the kids’ faces when they come here.”

When groups come by the farm, they can pick berries, learn about the process of farming and tour the farm.

While many couples at the Mallorys’ age have hopes of retiring, these two have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“Instead of retiring, we are just still working,” Shirley said. “We would like to start growing more stuff and expand to include more products.”

When it comes to clientele, the Mallorys have customers from all over the world.

“We have people from Turkey and Kazakhstan that buy products from us. We all have a  common bond of loving fresh produce and wanting to eat healthy,” Shirley said.

While many people living in Valdosta might think that growing their own garden is not possible, Mallory’s Farm doesn’t agree. The farm sells raised beds and container gardens for people living in apartments that are still interested in growing their own fresh and healthy produce.  

Mallory’s Farm has a variety of produce including blueberries, both U-Pick and pre-picked, tomatoes, hydroponic lettuce during the colder months, and peppers. The farm has a state-certified kitchen that is used for canning and they offer several canned goods including jams, pickles, salsas and syrup. All of their products are locally grown or are made from locally grown produce.

As for why the couple still enjoys working on a farm after all of these years, Shirley explained, “I don’t like being inside. It’s nice to just come out and see what needs to be done and do it. We love the freedom of getting to work with the land.”