ROCKINGHAM — For four generations, the Lambeth family has been agriculturally active in the Derby community in northeastern Richmond County.
From peaches to pine needles, tobacco to chickens, the farm has stayed productive over the years.
The Lambeths’ Triple L Farms was named the county’s Farm of the Year during Monday’s annual Farmer’s Luncheon at the Cooperative Extension office, part of the Farm-City Week celebration.
Extension Director Paige Burns Clark, who presented the award to Joe Lambeth, recounted the history of how the family’s farm came to fruition through the union of Mike Lambeth of Guilford County and Frances Currie, whose family had purchased land from the community’s namesake.
Their sons, twin brothers Jim and Joe Lambeth, both attended N.C. State University — at the same time as current state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and state Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico — and returned to work on the family farm after graduation, though Jim first worked for a year in the forestry industry.
The Lambeths also had a daughter, Joyce, a Campbell College grad who came back to the farm after working for Burlington Industries.
The father and sons formed Triple L Farms in 1977 and later opened a produce stand at the old general store selling strawberries and other produce after the tobacco buyout.
The Lambeths’ peach farm, the director said, is an extension of the original farms of the Sandhills that started the peach industry in North Carolina in the early 1900s.
“We’re very thankful … for the work the Extension has done in North Carolina,” said Jim Lambeth upon accepting the award. “Especially Paige … she’s helped me countless times when I’ve called her over the years, and she’ll be there tomorrow if I need her.”
He also gave thanks to his father and grandfather before him, and to his children, who all still live in Richmond County and help on the farm: Jed has a poultry farm; Jamie helps with irrigation and other work; and Meghann, who is also the county’s tourism director, sells produce during the summers.
Joe’s daughter Emma, now an accountant in Durham, also worked on the farm.
“A lot of our young people have left the family farm, have left (the county) even if they didn’t farm, and we want to keep our children here and grow Richmond County,” he said.
Farmers work long hours during some parts of the year, depending on what is in season, he added.
“But it’s been a rewarding career for me,” Lambeth continued. “I was trying to come to the end of my career, but I see all this coming and I don’t want to miss out on all that. I want to make more money by working less.”
State Sen. Tom McInnis also presented the Lambeths with a N.C. state flag that had flown over the capitol.
“The Lambeth family, the Currie family, they have been longstanding representatives of agriculture in our county,” he said.
Prior to the presentation, the crowd heard state farming statistics from Dr. Sandy Stewart, assistant commissioner of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Stewart, from Moore County, was appointed to the position in June.
The Lambeth family poses for a photo with Sen. Tom McInnis. From left: Mary Kate and Jed Lambeth with youngest son, Ford; Sen. Tom McInnis; Marcia and Jim Lambeth; Meghann Lambeth; Joyce Lambeth; and Jamie and Jennifer Lambeth.