Local farmer honored

Published 9:34 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

Plantersville has been home to many planters through the years, hence the name, and this year has produced a statewide winner in agriculture, David Wright.

Recently named the 2009 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Alabama Farmer of the Year, Wright will compete against nine other farmers to be the overall winner.

Wright owns and operates Wright’s Nursery and Greenhouse, which includes 92,000 square feet of greenhouse space and a half-acre of outdoor growing space.

Wright also maintains a fleet of trucks to deliver his plants, and a Web site as an avenue for customers to place orders. He also owns 1,403 acres of timberland.

And he does it all without something most people rely on every day — his right arm.

“I lost my arm in 1966 when it was caught in the drive shaft of a corn sheller,” Wright said in a press release. “I was a mediocre student, but after I lost my arm I felt I needed a college degree.

Soon after his accident, Wright’s father, a mechanic by day and a farmer by night, was planning to build a new shop.

As Wright recovered, he asked his father to build a greenhouse instead.

“He built the greenhouse so I could learn to use my left hand,” Wright said. “So, if not for losing my arm, I would not be in the greenhouse business, I would not have gone to college and would not have met my wife. I owe a lot to the Good Lord for taking my arm.”

Wright graduated from Auburn University with a degree in horticulture and returned home to work at his father’s business.

Since taking over the business, Wright has continually modernized and improved the facilities.

The modernization has made Wright’s operation more efficient.

“You won’t see any operation in the U.S. this small with this much automation,” he said.

His employees handle plant trays two times, compared with nine times prior to the adoption of modern greenhouse machinery.

“Modernization and efficiency have kept us in business,” Wright said.

Wright said he does not plan to increase the size of his business, but is always looking for ways to improve it and make it more efficient.

A panel of judges will visit Wright’s farm in August before choosing an overall winner.