Question.) When did each of you attend WCU?
David: Fall 1979 - Spring 1983
Lisa: Fall 1981- Spring 1983
Q.) David and Lisa, you were both very involved as students at WCU. What are some of your fondest memories of your days at WCU?
A.) David: It seems like most of my time was spent on the baseball field. Wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. Probably my best memory though is being on the football field with Lisa when they announced she was named the Homecoming Queen. I was more excited than she was.
Lisa: Some of my fondest memories was watching WCU baseball, which meant watching David Hill. Conversations with Cooney at the baseball field. Phi Mu sisterhood. Lots of studying at Hunter Library. The lifelong friendships made at WCU are now some of our most cherished friends. Ice cream at Dan the Dipper and milkshakes at the Town House.
Q.) Lisa, tell us how the two of you met.
David and I met our freshman year at Lake Brantley High School. We dated all four years and then attended WCU together. We were married in July of 1983 and will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year.
Q.) David and Lisa, who were your favorite professors at Western Carolina and why?
David: John Wade, Economics. Dr. Wade always seemed like one of the guys instead of your professors. I was only in one class of his as an underclassman, but he would always call me out in the halls by name until I graduated.
Doc Hamilton, Physical Education, Doc Hamilton always seemed like an absolute southern gentleman, I would seek him out when I was in Reid Gymnasium or if I saw him at one of our baseball games, I always walked away from him in a good mood.
Lisa: Dean Martin, Patsy Scott, Cecil Brooks and John Wade. Each of these professors were passionate about what they were teaching. They took a real interest in all their students. There was never a dull moment in any of their classes.
Q.) The two of you own a large and successful farm in Central Florida. Tell us a little about your career path since graduating Western and how you got to where you are today.
A.) David: I planned on going to law school, but Lisa’s father asked me to work on his farm during my junior year. At first I said no but changed my mind after a few months thinking about it. I learned how to farm from the ground up. The first year on the farm I was a tractor driver. Then I managed our vegtable packing house for the next three years. The next ten years I managed the farming operation for Long Farms, Inc. Lisa started at Long Farms, Inc in 1989 as a part time bookkeeper and ended up within a year, becoming the office manager and then ran the business side of the farming operation in the years to follow.
In 1998, the state of Florida bought our farm and several other farms that surrounded us in the name of the Lake Apopka Restoration Act. In 1999, we bought the 120 acres we currently farm and started Southern Hill Farms, Inc. We planted 80 acres of landscape trees over the next few years. In 2010, we began planting the remaining 40 acres in blueberries. The first two seasons we were a commercial only blueberry operation, then in 2014 we opened our blueberry fields to the public and have been growing our agritourism / u-pick business ever since. We added peaches to our u-pick operation in 2018. During the same time we built a blueberry packing house, H&A Farms, LLC, which packs berries for many other farms in Central Florida. All three of our children and their spouses work for our farm by managing the packing house, managing our blueberry growing operation and managing our agritourism business. During the last several years we have evolved from a traditional conventional farm into a public oriented agritourism business. By involving every member of our family, we hope to insure we remain a true family operated farm for generations to come.
Q.) You both have been very involved with your alma mater the last several years, Lisa as Chair-Elect of WCU's Board of Visitors, and both of you as hosts and sponsors of many central Florida alumni events. Why do you both feel it is important for alumni to stay connected with their university?
A.) Western Carolina University has blessed us in so many ways and we both want to contribute our time, talents and treasure to WCU in all ways we can. The friendships and the fun we have made in connecting with our Central Florida Alumni is very special to us both and we want to continue to be there for WCU.
Q.) Now tell us something unique and interesting about yourself that few people may know.
A.) David: I’m an instrument rated pilot and I played a season with the Wausau Timbers
a minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Also, not many folks know that I
love to build pole barns!
Lisa: I love to paddle board in the Atlantic Ocean. Also, I love to create new blueberry recipes—so come by the farm sometime and try our famous blueberry lemonade!