Company picks local grower for regional recognition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Charlie Parkerson isn’t just Virginia’s top farmer anymore.

On Tuesday, the 57-year-old founder of Lancaster Farms beat out top growers from seven states to become the 2003 Lancaster/Sunbelt Expo 2003 Southeast Farmer of the Year. The horticulturist was honored during the Sunbelt Expo, a Georgia trade show for farmers.

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One reason Parkerson was selected was his success at streamlining the process for growing tree cuttings, according to contest officials.

Parkerson developed a system of sticking tree cuttings into 3-gallon containers, making the transplant process easier. He also created pot-in-pot production, where a socket pot is buried and another production pot is nested inside.

Parkerson, who has owned Lancaster Farms since the late 1960s, will receive $14,000 for the award, plus use of a tractor of his choice for a year and a custom-made gun safe worth $3,600.

Efforts to reach Parkerson Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

Swisher International, through its Lancaster Premium Chewing Tobacco brand, and the Sunbelt Expo have sponsored the competition for the past 14 years.

The companies selected Parkerson as state winner in late July.

He was competing state winners from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee for the title. Part of the judging for the national competition included a visit from panel of judges last July.