Meet Albert Shaw, a sixth generation tree farmer with the "shirt to prove it," he likes to say. Defining Forest Stewardship -- One family’s story Six generations
. Albert Shaw is a sixth generation tree farmer. His farm is certified by the American Tree Farm System and he has “the shirt to prove it,” he likes to say. 100 years
. The land has been in the Shaw family for more than one hundred years, earning recognition as a certified Century Farm by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. 587 acres.
Wildwood Farm, as it is known today, is a mosaic of landscapes, including 280 acres of planted loblolly and longleaf pine, more than 200 acres of natural pine and mixed hardwood, 120 acres of row crops, 10 acres of pasture land, plus a five acre pecan orchard. 2.5 million seedlings
. That is how many seedlings Albert Shaw has planted since he planted his first pine seedling in 1967.
But the real story of forest stewardship lies beyond these numbers and begins at the dawn of our country.
The farm was purchased at an auction shortly after the Revolutionary War by Albert’s wife Wynette’s family, the McNeils. It was then sold to the MacMillan family and more than 200 years ago it was owned by newlyweds Mary MacMillan and Daniel Shaw. Since then, it has been home to tobacco fields, two sawmills and a turpentine operation.
In its more recent history, Wildwood Farm has served as a laboratory, classroom, living museum and natural playground. In the 1980s, the farm was a laboratory for scientists at the North Carolina Wildlife Commission exploring the cause of a dramatic drop in quail populations. Forestry students at Southeastern Community College use the land for field exercises and studies. A mature stand of longleaf will soon become a turpentine exhibit for the North Carolina Museum. The diverse landscape and abundant wildlife makes the countryside a favorite for hunters and hikers alike.
The land is also a thriving business. Owners Albert and Wynette manage the land to produce an income for their family – not a fortune but just enough to make a difference in their lives, especially for their kids who were able to attend college without student loans because of the revenue from the farm. Albert’s checkerboard approach – harvesting a 50-acre wood lot every few years – maintains the natural diversity of the countryside while bringing in revenue and creating jobs for the local economy. And whenever he cuts down a tree, he replants another to keep the forest alive and growing.
For Albert and Wynette, the farm is both a work-in-progress and a lasting legacy. New projects – such as restoring a pond and building a family lodge – continue to diversify the land, while a conservation easement on 60 acres of bottom-land hardwoods and a family trust for the rest of the land will keep the working farm productive for generations to come.
The numbers add up to a lifetime of forest stewardship, made possible because growing trees can turn a small profit and transform a love of the land into a livelihood.