Home Issue 2017-08-25 North Carolina Sweet Potato Innovator Carson Barnes Dead At 82

North Carolina Sweet Potato Innovator Carson Barnes Dead At 82


North Carolina sweet potato industry leader Carson Baker Barnes passed away Aug. 20 at the age of 82.

Barnes was a fixture in North Carolina agriculture. He began farming in 1960 with a small plot of sweet potatoes and eight acres of tobacco. Since then Barnes Farming Corp., has grown into one of the country’s largest sweet potato grower-shippers.

“Barnes Farming Corporation and Farm Pak Products has always been a family operation that strives to do business the right way,” said Johnny Barnes, president of Barnes Farming. “We want the memory of my dad and former president to serve as a reminder to continue to grow the best quality sweet potatoes from field to fork. He didn’t have many hobbies, farming was his hobby. It was his life.”

Carson Barnes worked tirelessly with the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission to promote sweet potatoes domestically and internationally and was one of the drivers in helping that product gain entrance to the European market.

“Carson Barnes will forever be remembered as one who dedicated his life to the entire industry,” said Kelly McIver, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. “He was one of the firsts of many things. His innovation and vision helped make us all as successful as we could be.”

Barnes was an avid supporter of North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In 2008, he announced the creation of the Henry M. Covington Endowment for Excellence in Sweet Potato Variety Development with the school.

The family asks that memorials may be made to Free Union Free Will Baptist Church, 4151 Macedonia Rd, Spring Hope, NC 27882 or FWB Children’s Home, PO Box 249, Middlesex, NC, 27557 in Barnes’ memory.

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