About

Ralph Forrest saw the writing on the wall. Technologic advancements would bring a sharp decline in demand for the ice he produced at the Bayboro Ice Plant. Fish processing facilities were adding their own ice manufacturing systems and the electric refrigerator would open the door for in home ice production. In 1969 Ralph left the ice business and purchased Lee’s Farm Supply, taking over the feed and seed supply store that had been started by Charlie Lee in 1952.

Ralph was not a farmer but he didn’t let that stop him from entering the farming business. He was a businessman who recognized the changing tides of the economic landscape. Like many successful businessmen, Ralph learned through observation. He knew in order to stay prosperous Forrest Farm Supply must be able to respond to changes in demand and not be solely reliant on any one product. He experienced this firsthand as an offshore Sword Fishermen when an unforeseen rise in mercury levels effectively shut down the swordfishing industry for nearly 35 years, leaving many fishermen out of work.

In the early years, most of the homes in Pamlico County were heated with coal burning stoves and Forrest Farm Supply was where residents purchased their heating fuel. Prior to 1974, Forrest Farm Supply was a stop along the railroad bound for Oriental. Coal brought down from the Kentucky mines was offloaded here for the residents of Pamlico County. But just as bulk ice production had been decentralized and sword fishing had dried up so too would coal as a home heating source.

Ralph’s son Chuck has been a fixture at Forrest Farm Supply since Ralph took ownership. Chuck learned the family business while becoming a professional water skier, inducted into the North Carolina Water Skiing Hall of Fame in 2015. Chuck’s wife Wanda joined the business in 1989 working alongside Ralph’s wife Joyce. With the dawn of the new millennium the elder Forrests were no longer able to tend the store thus ushering in a generational shift. By the end of 2000 both Ralph and Joyce had passed leaving Chuck and Wanda to lead the charge.

Over the last four decades Forrest Farm Supply has watched a new landscape develop in the farming industry. Fewer families are growing their own crops but the store still supplies bulk and organic seeds for those who still live a life connected with the land. The advancements in farming technologies has resulted in fewer farmers tending larger farms that require greater precision in the application of fertilizers. Chuck and his crew can be seen driving state of the art equipment all over Pamlico County’s back roads tending to the fields that feed our families and drive the economy of Pamlico County.

The store you see now was shaped by the events of 2005. Highway 55 runs in front of the store and when the state claimed eminent domain as part of a highway widening project Chuck and Wanda were left little choice but to abide by the state’s claim. Rather than see this as a loss of property Chuck and Wanda saw an opportunity to build a new parking lot that would provide their customers with a drive through loading area for picking up feed and other supplies. Before the lot could be completed a pre-existing house would need to come down. Seeing yet another opportunity, rather than demolish the home Chuck and Wanda moved the structure and donated it to the Pamlico County Habitat for Humanity.

Now approaching its 5th decade and 3rd generation, Forrest Farm Supply remains Pamlico County’s go to source for all things feed, seed, home, and garden. If you are visiting stop by and experience the results of a lot of hard work, forward thinking, and southern hospitality that has resulted in Forrest Farm Supply.