At the end of last month, I spent the day in Jackson, North Carolina with my work-colleague Carter and her mother. We visited a couple of cotton gins and managed to *stop [read: trespass] in several picked and unpicked cotton fields to learn everything there is to know about the natural fiber first hand.
Jackson is a one-stop-light kind of town. Everyone knows everyone at least by their last name, and the only restaurant in town, The Embassy, closes at 2pm each afternoon. Carter’s mother grew up in Jackson where her family owned what is now Farmer’s Gin for more than 80 years.
The gin runs 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from September through December. They can produce 15 bales of cotton per hour or 180 bales per day. For the process, the cotton gin receives a cotton module – the large square or round bundles of cotton in the field – and begin separating seed and plant debris, cleaning the cotton, and pressing it into bales.
This is a picture of our guide James. At the end of the tour he asked if Carter and I were college students. He then told us that he owns a house, has two kids, paying a few car notes and is married. By the way, he’s only 19. [I’m 25, no kids, no house, parents payed for my car and unmarried, womp womp.]
While in Jackson, I felt a strong sense of Southern hospitality and an American working class vibe. Visiting Jackson was such a nice change of pace from the city, if for only 3/4ths of the day, and I love driving and seeing stretches of open fields, acres and acres of fields. I loved the trip and this is something I hope to do more often, whether for work or for pleasure. For more on this, read my post on the Ledbury blog here.