William Ponder, Great Grandfather of Brian and Ken Ponder bought land in what later became Omega, Georgia in Tift County. The year was 1884 and William was eighteen years old. He built a log cabin on the land where Brian lives now.
Farming and especially cotton farming has deep roots in the Ponder families. Brian and Ken’s grandfather, W. Roy Ponder and great uncle, Howard Ponder started the first cotton gin in Omega. It was sold twice and moved to the present location to become The Omega Gin Company today.
The Ponder brother’s Grandmother Ona said as a child she remembered gathering the squares (unopened cotton blooms) that had fallen from the plants, they were infested with the boll weevil larvae. The squares were gathered and burned, organic boll weevil control at its finest!
The Ponder families, which included Brian and Ken’s father, Jones, stopped growing cotton in the 70’s and earned respect as sweet potato farmers.
Brian, Ken and Jones Ponder
Brian grew his first cotton crop in 1985 at age sixteen. He started with 42 acres and now has over 1200 acres in cotton production. Still a one cotton picker producer, he has become more efficient in production and tillage practices. He has doubled his yields and has helped other young farmers get a start by co-farming with them.
Brian says he likes growing cotton because it responds to TLC. The better you treat it the better it yields for you. He and Ken have won quality cotton awards. They also understand the importance of taking care of the land and have won conservation awards.
Brian and Missy Ponder and Luna
Brian’s wife, Missy, was a city girl but adapted well to cotton picking life. She began by riding the cotton picker sitting on an over-turned bucket while they were still dating. Brian buried her engagement ring in a fresh planted cotton field and asked her to see if she could find any sprouted seeds. She found the ring. Their loved had already sprouted and came into full bloom. They married and have two children, Cy and Victoria.
Brian, Missy, Cy and Victoria Ponder
Ken & June Ponder, Elizabeth & Zach Puryear
Ken is married to June Sumner Ponder. June also came from a 4 generation farming background. Her family settled in this area around 1828 and grew cotton as well.
Ken and June have one daughter, Elizabeth, who is married to Zach Puryear and they recently welcomed their first child, Liam. Elizabeth has scouted crops for the farming operation and Zach works part time on the farm and an off farm job as well.
Ken and Brian divided up duties in their farming operation. Ken oversees the peanut, watermelon and grain sorghum production. He is also the primary go to person for the bookkeeping and records for the Ponder Brothers.
Ever on the progressive end of farm production Ken says he remembers their first attempts at strip tilling. They tried it on a few acres in the back forty …actually in the woods…so his grandfather wouldn’t turn over in his grave. Others observed the results of their innovative soil preservation method. Today this soil healthy practice is common in this area.