Featured Farmer for July: Eugene Martins
Interview with Adam McClary Farmer Support Specialist
Many of our farmers know Gene personally. He lives in upper Alabama and has been so generous with his time and knowledge. He has spoken to many of our new farmers and passed along valuable life lessons from growing our Empress trees. He planted his first trial trees in 2015 and kindly shared his experience with me in this exclusive interview.
Hello Eugene, I just want to thank you for meeting with me today. Tell me about getting started with World Tree.
Well, I don’t really remember it’s been quite a while. I think I saw an ad in the farm magazine saying World Tree was looking for farmers, to plant this tree. I didn’t know anything about the trees, but I called up Wendy. I told her there’s only two things you can grow in Alabama, that’s rocks and trees. I figured I might as well plant some trees. It was something new and different. Back then to get started you had to buy 10 trees your first year as a trial before being awarded a contract. So I said, let’s try it and see what happens.
Now that you’ve been working with us for four years, what’s your favorite part about the trees?
The best part is my newest field. Seeing the trees growing, all about the same height. You look out across the field and very hole is full and green, it’s just amazing. And the CEO Wendy came out to my place to have her see what we’re doing. And it’s always good to know who your boss is,and hear what she thinks about what you’re doing
That’s awesome. I remember you telling me about one tree that grew really tall last year. How is that one doing?
It’s off and doing great, off and growing again. It was probably close to 30 feet tall last year, so I didn’t coppice it. There is already another six feet on top of that this year.
Wow, 30 feet in one year is great! We’ll have to figure out what happened to that tree so we can replicate that everywhere!
Well, I can tell you what I think happened. It’s up there by the old farmhouse and I’m kind of thinking that there’s a good possibility there might have been an outhouse out there at one time. Because the trees around it, they’re all doing good, too, but not like that one!
Overall, how is your summer progressing so far?
It is very dry right now. The weathermen are talking about us getting some rain this weekend. I hope we get some as we really need it.
I am sorry to hear that, you had a rough start to this spring as well didn’t you?
Well, I helped my daughter plant 550 new trees this spring. Within a week, we had two days where it got down to 20 degrees. So quite a few of those new trees got frosted. They couldn’t handle going from the greenhouse to the field like that. I think all told we lost 60 trees. That’s farming though.
Well for a frost, that’s not bad. Close to a 90% survival rate. How are the trees left growing?
The ones that are left are growing well.
Did you have any flowers on your trees this spring?
Yeah, lots of flowers. But I have not seen any on the new trees from last year yet. They told me that if a tree gets 15 feet tall, you don’t have to coppice it and I had quite a few that tall in the first year. I’m sure that those will have flowers on them next spring.
Wow, that’s awesome. How does that smell when you have a field of flowers?
Oh, very nice. My wife had me bring some up into the house and they smelled great.
What would you say to new or prospective farmers looking at starting with World Tree?
I would show them the brochures and tell them what to expect. What works and what doesn’t work, how much it takes to grow them. I would encourage them to just get started. What the farmer support (team) and I can tell you is good, but until you do it on your own soil with your own climate, you will never know until you try.
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