Giving Thanks For The Power of Community Kinship

Written by Darriel McBride

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s an opportunity for us to not only be thankful for the food we eat, but our families as we celebrate with one another. Growing up on a farm, in North Carolina, has taught the Starling family the importance of knowing exactly where their food comes from. Mother and wife, JoAnne Starling, explained her family’s mission to educate others about being an informed consumer. 

JoAnne Starling: “So many times people don’t know where their food comes from. We want to make sure that they all know” 

Her son William shared his own pleasant memories growing up on the farm,

William Starling: “I’ve been around hogs all my life. Been working with hogs ever since I was big enough to do it. Still have some of my own on the ground, on the pasture of what’s now referred to as a pasture pig operation…it’s become the new way of doing it, but it’s the way we’ve done it all along. It’s not the only way to do it and it’s not necessarily the best way to do it by any means. But it’s just the way it’s more humane for the animals…raising them outside on the ground. Antibody free and pasture raised out on the ground. Not enclosed, not confined, just a little more natural way of doing it.”

farmer smiling and holding a pig.

Life on the farm has allowed this family to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of sustainability. The Starling family was even featured in several news articles which highlighted their successful farming techniques. One of the brothers, Steve, explains how his parent’s inspired him and his two brothers to also pursue careers in agriculture.  

Steve Starling: “In 1979 my brothers and I were included in a newspaper article story done about our mom and dad and the fact that our dad was farming a significant number of acres at the time. Or what at the time was a significant number of acres. I think the headline on the newspaper was 200 Acres. So this photo means a lot to us. Like I said, the three of us have ended up in agriculture and I think it all ties back into where we started out.” 

Family gathered on a far. News article feature. 1995.

For the Starlings, family is not a concept exclusive to those with the same bloodline. For them, family means community and all of the players who have worked on their farm, including their neighbors, have become a part of their own family. During his interview, one of the Starling brother’s, Ray, highlights the impact and power of working together in a community,

group of farmers of all races in North Carolina

Ray Starling: “I think one thing I like about this photograph is these are folks from all over our community. There are Native Americans here, there are African Americans here, there are white folks here. It was very hard work but everybody had a great time …these other people become an extension of our family. We could name all of these people off to you, who they are. Some of them have now passed on. But just a great memory of an important crop in North Carolina, particularly Northeast Carolina. Tobacco.”

old man with long beard holds tobacco and standing in front of tobacco produce

Ray Starling: The fact that it took the entire community coming together to get it done. So it kinda represents not just that immediate family that we have here, but the family that we grew up with out in the tobacco fields doing hard work.” 

Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family, friends, and neighbors! Here at Family Pictures, we want to celebrate with you. Send us your family photos!

And don’t forget to bond with your own family this Thanksgiving with a delicious meal and a side of Season One Family Pictures USA! 

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