After 40 rewarding years as a pioneering dairy farmer at Asheville’s Small Acres Farm, Mike Corn earned a spot in the 2018 Western North Carolina (WNC) Agricultural Hall of Fame class. When asked what this recognition meant to him, he smiles and shrugs. His wife, Mary Louise, quickly jumps in. “He won’t say it, but it meant the world to him. All the family came. It was a great day,” she says.
Corn began his career in agriculture at NC State University with a degree in animal science after serving in the Marines. In 1994, he was named dairyman of the year and later received the Bill Martin Award for Service at the Mountain State Fair in 2008. Along with being inducted into the WNC Hall of Fame, he was also awarded the Marvin E. Senger Distinguished Dairy Farmer Award this year.
Caring for the Herd
Corn cares for an 800-head dairy herd on 20 acres at the majestic Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The historic Biltmore Jersey herd is one of the longest-operating herds in the country.
“We’re one of the most progressive outfits around,” Corn says, referring to his renowned feeding program.
His pride is evident as he explains the collections of recycled feed, which include byproducts from Oskar Blues Brewery and Bold Rock Cidery, cotton manufacturing, and fruits and vegetables deemed “too ugly” to sell to consumers.
“Many farmers can’t have this kind of feeding program because they either don’t have the local partners or it’s too much work to set up the channels,” Corn says.
Still Going Strong
Corn is on the Jersey Cattle Board and commands the Mooternity Ward each year at the NC Mountain State Fair in Fletcher. It’s the fair’s biggest agricultural attraction and showcases calves being born.
“He loves working with youth and educating people,” Mary Louise says. She adds that he also works with youth dairy judges and lends his cows (and expertise) to those showing cattle as well.
Even after 40 years, Corn says he doesn’t get tired of going to work each day, putting in 12-plus hours, six days a week.
“Every day is different for me,” he says. “How could I get bored?”