Smithfield farm mom voted Southeast’s best

Published 8:33 pm Friday, August 3, 2012

Delores “Dee Dee” Darden, of Smithfield, center, receives her prize during the 2012 Virginia Ag Expo, after being named Farmers Mom of the Year for the Southeast.

A Smithfield woman whose family’s business cures and sells 1,000 hams a year has been named America’s Farmers Farm Mom of the Year 2012 for the Southeast.

Delores “Dee Dee” Darden was presented with the award and prize by Monsanto at the 2012 Virginia Ag Expo, held at Grainfield Farm, in Mechanicsville, on Thursday.

Dee Dee and husband Tommy Darden own and operate Darden’s Country Store, a family-run business since 1952, a press release states.

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Beside curing and selling 1,000 hams a year, on their family farm they grow peanuts, cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans and pumpkins, as well as raise beef cattle, the release states.

Dee Dee has served on local, state and national commodity boards. She chairs the Virginia Small Grains Check-off Board and is a past president of Virginia Grains Producers, the release adds.

During her time as chair of the National Peanut Board, Dee Dee traveled nationally and internationally to promote the U.S. peanut industry.

She was elected to the County Board of Supervisors in 2011 with 70 percent of the vote.

“I was so excited and proud to be chosen America’s Farmers Mom of the Year for the Southeast,” Darden says in the release. “It’s a real honor to be recognized for doing what you love to do!”

Dee Dee was joined at the expo by Tommy and daughter Carrie, who submitted the winning nomination.

“As the grandkids say, my mom is the best ‘Farm ma’ of all time,” Carrie said in her winning nomination.

“Every fall, more than 1,500 school-age children and their parents visit the farm, where Dee Dee organizes hay rides and pumpkin picking and teaches a lesson on how food gets from the farm to the fork.”

American Agri-Women and Monsanto selected five regional winners from nearly 1,000 nominations.

“We received nominations for hundreds of farm moms, all with a passion for agriculture and a zest for life on a family farm,” America’s Farmers Mom of the Year spokeswoman Consuelo Madere says in the release.

“Dee Dee Darden represents these women well. With her dedication to her family and her farm, and in reaching consumers in her community and well beyond, she is truly inspirational.”

Matthew Lohr, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service Commissioner, also attended the expo, as did Martha Smith, Rose Bradshaw and Brad Roberts of Monsanto.

Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Farm Mom of the Year is an extension of the America’s Farmers program, which celebrates the contributions of America’s farmers.