|Debbie Freeland of Grand Bay, newly elected chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation's State Women's Leadership Committee, has been involved in farming all her life except for two years teaching school.
-- Photo by Darryal Ray
Grand Bay, Mobile County
Alfa Member Since:
Current Office or Board:
Chairman, State Women's Leadership Committee
Chairman, Mobile County Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Committee
Previous Office(s) or Board:
Previously served as chairman of the State Women's Committee in 2002 and as state secretary in 2001
Also served as secretary of the Mobile County Farmers Federation Women's Committee
Other Farming Activities:
Previously served as director of the Mobile County Cattlewomen's Association (1996-2002)
Debbie and her husband, Mobile County Farmers Federation President Calvin Freeland, live on a 1,200-acre, third-generation farm that pre-conditions and grazes stocker cattle, produces wheat, soybeans, hay and pecans.
"I help any way I can. I try to help with the bookkeeping, but as far as the work, he doesn't like for me to get out there with the cows because they'll run over you. So, being a supporter of agriculture, is mostly my role. That's our life, and always has been. I grew up in a farm family. My father was a farmer and except for teaching school two years before I married, that's the only life I've ever known."
The King's Daughter:
Debbie says her late father, Leroy "Buck" Crepps, was known as "the king of watermelons" in Mobile County. "Father had about 80 acres of watermelons at a time," she says. "He grew soybeans and raised cattle and corn, too, but in the summertime, he focused on watermelons. He sold them to a lot of stores like the A&P."
"Back when I was little, he grew these Sugar Babies," she recalls. "They were so small and I could pick those up because they weren't real heavy ... I remember going in the fields and helping him with those, and I remember going with him to deliver with them to the grocery stores. That really brings back memories ... I still miss him greatly."
Her bigger chore growing up, however, was helping her mother in the kitchen. "I was an onlly child, and Dad would bring the help in to eat at lunchtime. If he let them go at noon to eat, he wouldn't get the help back. So, I would help my mother with the lunches. It was an out-and-out meal."
What I Like About Agriculture:
"I am close every day with God's nature," she says. "You work at your own pace, and you never get bored since farm operations, weather and seasons are always changing."
Debbie and Calvin have been married 31 years, having met at church although she says she was extremely bashful. "I didn't say anything to anybody," she said.
The Freelands have one son, 27-year-old Lee Emmett Freeland and his wife Jessica. They have no children, but Lee stays busy as an associate editor of Elevator World, an international trade publication.
Debbie, who holds a bachelor's of science degree in elementary education from the University of South Alabama, taught first-, second- and third-graders for two years before she and Calvin were married. "I always enjoyed school and the idea of having a classroom of my own and teaching had always appealed to me. But once we married, Calvin wanted me to stay home and the school where I was teaching was 25 to 30 miles from where we lived. I enjoyed teaching, but his mother told me, 'If you do everything you need to do in a day, you'll never get bored being a housewife.' And she was right. I never have been bored."
A Good Day/Bad Day Is...
"A good day is setting goals to accomplish and exceeding them," says Debbie. "A bad day is not having dessert!"
You May Not Know:
"I enjoy decorating for Federation events, seasonal and themed," she says. "I love to collect cookbooks (she has more than 100 of them) and I read them for fun. I enjoy cooking and especially making 'new' desserts. I also like to fish and I enjoy shopping too."
Debbie and Calvin also enjoy leisurely rides on Calvin's Harley-Davidson motorcycle, either alone or with their pastor and other couples from Union Baptist Church. "We don't go out into high traffic areas, because that can be dangerous and you have to really be careful," she says. "But in the spring, the group will ride over to Dauphin Island, we'll go on the ferry and have lunch. Our pastor says we 'ride to eat and eat to ride' and he's right about that. But it's a lot of fun."
-- Compiled by Darryal Ray