Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself, including your name and your profession.
My name is Greg Gill, and I’m a peanut farmer in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. I also represent Arkansas’ peanut farmers on the National Peanut Board. I started farming with my father when I was young, and this is my 41st crop. Farming is all I ever wanted to do. I grow peanuts, soybeans, corn and rice on 10,000 acres. I’m married and have three children and two grandchildren. I love living in the country, and riding horses is one of hobbies.
What is a typical work day like for you?
There’s always work to be done of the farm, but planting and harvest seasons are the busiest. I usually get up by 6 a.m., and my crew and I meet at the shop at 7 a.m. We talk about what’s coming up in the day and what we need to get done. During the busy times or if we know there’s bad weather coming in, we’ll work until it gets dark or even later, sometimes eating lunch as we’re driving the tractor through the field. Outside of planting and harvesting, we’ll repair and maintain our equipment and set up irrigation pipes and things like that.
What do you love most about your job?
I love being outside and working outside. I don’t like being cooped up in an office. The most rewarding thing about farming to me is planting a seed, nurturing it and watching it come up and grow. It’s a pleasure to see these plants start from nothing to providing food for everyone. Plants are kind of like people; you take care of them, and if they’re sick, you help them get better. You try to do whatever it takes to make the plant do all it can do.
Do you have any fun facts about peanuts that you can share with our readers?
94 percent of Americans have at least one jar of peanut butter in their pantry.
Peanuts have more muscle-building protein than any other nut — 7 grams per serving.
Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the USA – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
Astronaut Alan Shepard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
George Washington Carver promoted more than 300 uses for peanuts in the early 1900s.
It takes fewer than 5 gallons of water to grow one serving of peanuts.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about peanuts?
Many people are surprised to learn that peanuts do not grow on trees like other nuts. Peanuts grow underground. When you look at a peanut field, you’ll see the plant’s green leaves above the soil. The peanuts themselves grow underneath the soil. When it’s harvest time, a machine called a digger goes through the field, pulls up the peanut plant and flips it upside down, peanuts-side up. The peanuts dry for a few days and then another machine called a combine goes through the field. The combine separates the peanuts from the rest of the plant and then the peanuts get on their way to your house for your snacks and PB&Js.