2014 Recipient: Banks Family Farms

Arlen Keith Banks Sr., Banks Family Farms

$6,000—Sorghum Syrup

Keith has improved his sweet sorghum operation by adding an extension to an existing building to house his juice press, create a storage room and expand the cooking shed to include hot water. The new addition, which is a great improvement over the outside pop-up tent that Keith was previously using, creates efficiencies in juicing and cooking and minimizes preparation and cleanup time. With cuts in processing time and better use of labor, the production of sorghum syrup is increased, opening up new markets.

Keith sells through TRACTOR Food and Farms, which is a coop between Mitchell and Yancey County aimed at distributing local foods to local consumers, wholesalers and retail outlets. He also sells at farmers markets and to grocery stores and restaurants.

The farm has been in the Banks family since 1843, and Keith is glad to see that his three grandchildren, 16, 13 and 9, all show a love of farming. “It is a family affair,” Keith said. “My sister, her husband, my companion and a friend who lives on the farm all love to make sweet sorghum and farm.”

Yancey County

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