Georgia Couple Named National Outstanding Young Farmers

Dan Georgia

National Outstanding Young Farmers
Matt and Melissa Bottoms of Concord, Georgia
2021 Winners National Outstanding Young Farmers

Matt and Melissa Bottoms of Concord, Georgia were recently selected national winners for 2021 during the annual National Outstanding Young Farmers (NOYF) Awards Congress. The event was held Feb. 3-6 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The winners were selected for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation. Four national winners for both 2021 and 2022 were announced after last year’s event was postponed. The three other national winners for 2021 are from New Mexico, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.

The Bottoms operate both a nursery and a row crop farm, growing soybeans, corn, and millet. As a fifth-generation farmer, Bottoms relates that he does not remember a time in his life when he was not involved in farming. Since taking an official leadership role in the family nursery in 2000, he has focused on increasing yields, improving plant quality, and marketing his products while working closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop erosion control measures and improve nutrient retention. Developing new machinery to decrease dependence on labor has been a priority as well, including the development of a rotary hoe that eliminates weeks’ worth of hand labor and an overhead watering system that decreases the time spent soaking thousands of newly potted plants. Melissa homeschools the couple’s children, Anna, Madelyn, and Abigail, and works in the farm office as well as in the nursery. They are both active in Farm Bureau, FFA alumni, and various ag organizations.


Also at that event, Hunter and Laura Grills of Newbern, Tennessee were selected national winners for 2022. The other three 2022 national winners are from Illinois, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Grills are ninth-generation row crop and beef cattle farmers from west Tennessee. Hunter became responsible for farming 45 acres as a teenager, and now with his two brothers, grow soybeans, corn, triticale, and Angus beef cattle. Cover crops, filter strips, grass waterways, and no-till practices help achieve the farm’s conservation goals. Laura, a former elementary school teacher, works full time on the farm with accounting, livestock care, and daily operations. Hunter serves as a board member for the county soil and water conservation district and is active in many grower groups, the Farm Bureau, 4-H and FFA volunteer, and church activities.

The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the U.S. selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America, and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the U.S. Jaycees.