Windsor farm family featured on TV show

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Chris Bunn, left, gets help from Cecil Byrum in fixing a problem with one of the tractors at Byrum Family Farms on Firetower Road in Windsor. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS

WINDSOR—Thomas Steele Byrum thinks name-dropping is what led to the Byrum Family Farms of Windsor to be featured on television.

A crew from “America’s Heartland” last summer interviewed Byrum and his father, Cecil, from an area they farm on Firetower Road. The segment began appearing last month on RFD-TV, a cable/satellite channel that focuses on agricultural.

Thomas Byrum, 33, said the family’s name was likely on a list the National Cotton Council had gotten from the Virginia Council.

“We were very willing to do it,” he said. “It was very fun. We were honored to do the story because farming is not always viewed favorably by the media.”

The timing, though, meant the Byrums couldn’t provide film footage of planting or harvesting, but the crew got about six minutes worth of material.

One project was to create a database warehouse, which has proven useful.

But with the birth of his first child coinciding with the economic downturn in 2008, Thomas Byrum considered a career change.

“I didn’t want to be 55 and let go, and too old to start something new,” said the former Smithfield Foods and Smithfield Packing employee.

Steele returned to the farm, renting 500 to 550 acres nearby belonging to his late grandfather, Thomas Roland Byrum. Acreage has since increased close to 900. His father farms separately on about 1,000 acres, but they share labor and equipment.

“We balance each other,” said Thomas Byrum, adding that working together gets more accomplished.

In addition to planting and harvesting, there’s always something to do. In 2012 the fuel building was moved to his grandfather’s place for safety. This season’s list could include moving a bin or adding to the grain storage space, as well as getting into irrigation.

“There’s always something to do,” Byrum said. “It’s very much a family farm.”

To see the interview, go to the link for America’s Heartland on Visit