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David Eckman – Elberta, AL

For as long as he can remember, David Eckman has loved farming. When he was eight years old he received his first allowance of 50 cents and spent it all on watermelon seeds. The rest is history.

Eckman grew up in Foley, Ala., and graduated from Foley High School. He then joined the United States Army and went to Vietnam as a paratrooper. About a year later he returned home and started college. His love of farming prompted him to attend Auburn University and get a degree in agriculture education.

After graduation, Eckman had a strong desire to return to Vietnam and use his training to help the people there, so he joined the Peace Corps. “I asked them to send me to any country in Asia,” he says. “Since the war was still going on in Vietnam, they sent me to Thailand.”

During his four years serving with the Peace Corps in Thailand, Eckman met and married the love of his life, Subeen. After ten years in Thailand, David and Subeen moved back to the states with their two boys, Daniel and Sam.

Soon after their return, the Eckmans began farming some family property in Elberta, Ala. This land was densely wooded so Eckman cleared five acres of trees and sold the timber so he could buy a tractor, and the farm began.

In the years to come, the Eckmans welcomed two more sons to their family, Matt and David. The farm became a family affair and it took all six of them to keep it going as they gradually cleared more land, added cattle and crops, and built a home.

As the years passed and the boys grew up and left home, the Eckmans changed their farming plan. Now they just focus on growing a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits to sell at the local farmer’s market in Foley, Ala.

When they aren’t tending to the gardens or at the farmer’s market, you can find the Eckmans on their motorcycles or their sailboat, a new interest in their life. Eckman said, “About two years ago I bought a sailboat. I only wish I’d bought one 40 years ago.”

You can’t talk to David Eckman long without realizing his love and appreciation for his wife and family. “I have a good wife that always supports me,” he says. “This year Sue and I will celebrate 36 years together. My whole thing in life is my wife and my boys.”

He hopes that one day soon he can fully retire and turn the farm over to their sons. As for him and Subeen, you’ll have to catch them in between trips to Montana on their motorcycles or outings on their sailboat.

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