Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Dee Dee Darden: Passion Personified

Monsanto’s Southeast Regional Farm Mom well known in the peanut industry

By Amanda Huber

Delores “Dee Dee” Darden, Smithfield, Va., was recently named Monsanto’s 2012 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year regional winner for the Southeast. One of five regional winners, Darden was selected by judges from American Agri-Women and Monsanto in recognition of the contributions she makes to her family, farm, community and the agricultural industry.

Dee Dee and her husband, Tommy, farm 600 acres of peanuts, cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans and raise beef cattle. They also run Darden’s Country Store, a family-run business since 1952, where they cure country hams.

A Peanut-Promoting Force

Yet, Darden needs little introduction to the peanut industry where she has been a tireless promoter of peanuts for many years.

“Dee Dee Darden is an amazing woman who is an incredible asset to the peanut industry,” says National Peanut Board President and Managing Director Marie Fenn. “She is extremely dedicated to her family, her community and her business. During her service on the National Peanut Board, including her chairmanship, she was a courageous leader in the Board’s proactive approach to food allergies.

“No matter how busy she is, I’m so grateful that Dee Dee always makes the time and devotes the passion to help us champion USA-grown peanuts,” Fenn says.

A Community Leader

Darden was nominated for the award by her daughter, Carrie, who wrote, “Dee Dee Darden is passionate about our family, farming and her community. Every fall, over 1,500 schoolage children and their parents visit the farm. She organizes hay rides, pumpkin picking, cow “meetNgreet,” and gives a lesson on how food gets from the farm to the fork.

“Community is near and dear to Dee Dee’s heart. She serves or has served on several local, state and national commodity boards. She currently serves as chairman of Virginia Small Grains Check Off Board and is past president of the Virginia Grains Producers. As past chairman of the National Peanut Board, she traveled nationally and internationally promoting USA peanuts.”

An Agriculture Ambassador

Dell Cotton, executive director of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association in Franklin, Va., says, “Dee Dee Darden has been and continues to be a great ambassador for Virginia’s agriculture industry.”

Consuelo Madere, America’s Farmers Mom of the Year spokesperson, says that Darden, along with our other regional winners, personifies a passion for agriculture and the farming lifestyle. “It’s an honor to recognize her for all she does to support agriculture and to reinforce within her community that the food on grocery store shelves is grown in the fields of rural America,” she says.

Although Darden says she was excited and proud to be chosen as a regional winner, it’s the passion that she feels for family, her community and agriculture that motivate her daily.

“It’s a real honor to be recognized for doing what you love to do!” she says.

Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Mom of the Year is an extension of the America’s Farmers program, which celebrates the contributions of America’s farmers, who provide food, energy and clothing for a growing planet. PG

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