Demonstration and Research Farm
in Wilkes County
Alan Davis loved farming, raising beef cattle in the foothills of North Carolina, and like many farmers wanted his land to continue to be used for agriculture following his death.
Davis died of cancer in 1999. In late October 2001, his dream that the 100-acre farm that was his passion remain agricultural land became reality when his mother, Jurileen, donated the farm to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N. C. State University.
The farm, which is near the community of Thurmond in Wilkes County, will be used by the college for agricultural research and North Carolina Cooperative Extension activities. Mrs. Davis, a Thurmond resident, also established an endowment that will support the farm and research to be done there.
“There aren’t so many farms any more,” Mrs. Davis said during a dedication ceremony October 26. “This land will never be sold.”
Dean Jim Oblinger of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences called Alan Davis an “instinctive and innovative farmer” who was widely known for the grass management system he used to provide pastures on which his Angus cattle grazed.
Davis was recognized as one of the top Angus breeders in North Carolina and received three Pathfinder awards for breeding from the American Angus Association. Oblinger said it was Davis’ dream that the innovative farming practices he established would survive his death.
The Alan C. Davis Demonstration and Research Farm will be a site not only for beef cattle and pasture research but for a variety of other activities, said Dr. Jon Ort, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Ort said the farm may be the site of research on alternative agricultural enterprises, such as aquaculture (raising fish) or viniculture (growing grapes to be used to make wine). Agricultural scientists may also experiment with Christmas trees, native ornamentals and herbs at the site as well as farming practices that protect the environment.
Additionally, the farm will be a location for Extension meetings, field days and demonstrations. Indeed, the farm is in the northeast corner of Wilkes County where Wilkes, Alleghany and Surry counties meet, and representatives of the Extension centers in all three counties will be on a committee that will plan activities and research for the farm. Bob Edwards, Extension director in Alleghany County and a long-time friend of Alan Davis, said it is hoped that buildings on the farm can be converted to serve as an Extension education center for the three-county area.
Among those attending the dedication ceremony was John Brown, a long-time friend of Jurileen Davis. Brown is a Wilkes County resident and former member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, where he served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
“Nothing but good can come of this,” Brown said of the gift and endowment. “It’s a great thing for agriculture and for this community.”