COVID closures are allowing a western Piedmont family to fulfill retirement dreams

Piedmont Triad News

SURRY COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Cindy Southern Marion has worked for a number of Piedmont school systems as a child nutrition director. Her new career is just as challenging: retirement.

Marion plans to dedicate herself to the land her family has farmed for over 100 years.

“For me, there’s always been a desire to come back to the farm, to be able to bring the farm back to what it was when my grandparents were living,” Cindy said.

Dock Southern Farms is a former Surry County tobacco farm. It’s not actively farmed now, but a donkey named Willie Nelson currently enjoys the pasture and a pat on the head when you walk by.

Marion has big plans for the farm, but she needs help to make it happen. Her two sons, Will and Jack Marion, and her daughter, Peyton Marion, are enjoying musical careers in states like New York and Texas. Careers that were thriving until the pandemic.

“At first when it happened, I thought we would be out of work for two to three weeks,” Will said. “Then the weeks turned into months, into a year.”

So Will returned home to Surry County and started helping his mother clean up the family farm, which was a new experience for him.

“It was brush hogging, weed eating, clearing out brush, fixing fences, things I have not done a lot of as a kid,” Will said.

Peyton was working in New York when COVID shut down the city. She explained why she returned to Surry County.

“I found out I got accepted into NYU master’s program on Tuesday…by Friday, I lost all of my jobs. I was here visiting, and mom said ‘wait a few weeks before you go back to New York,” Peyton said.

With Will, Peyton and Jack working on the farm, the fields are clear and ready for the fall pumpkin patch. Plus Willie Nelson likes the extra attention he’s getting. Most importantly, Cindy is enjoying the farm and her family once again.

“It’s been the most amazing gift as a mother I ever could have been given,” Cindy said.

Being home has also given Peyton new inspiration for future shows.

“A lot of my writing is starting to reflect this place and themes of legacy, family and connection to your roots and a physical place,” Peyton said.

And there’s no better feeling than helping your mother and spending extra time with your brother and sister.

“It’s probably the most time spent with my brother and sister together in years,” Will said.

The fall pumpkin patch at Dock Southern Farms should be ready in September.

In the future, the Marions want to expand the farm and start growing their own pumpkins and hold arts and crafts shows.

And of course, with a family of musicians, they want to hold outdoor concerts.

For more information, check out the Dock Southern Farms website.

They are also on Facebook and Instagram.

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