Marcus Thompson, Jr., is the third generation of a textile family and, after earning his B.S. Degree in Textile Manufacturing from the Rhode Island School of Design, began his career operating Stillwater Worsted Mill in Chepachet, Rhode Island, while farming part-time, raising Cheviot and Hampshire sheep and Hereford cattle on the family’s Seldom Seen Farm. After Stillwater closed, Thompson became purchasing agent and later wool buyer at The Worcester Company, traveling the country meeting with “sheep people” from Texas, Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota to buy fine wools needed for the company’s manufacturing. When the company closed in the 1990s, Thompson became a full time farmer.
One of Thompson’s greatest accomplishments is his role as mentor to the Rhode Island farming community. For years, people interested in farming in the Ocean State were told it was unrealistic, but he believed there was a role and continued to dedicate his life to “keep the fires burning.” His efforts led to agriculture in the state becoming the second largest growth industry (second only to the health industry) today. Young farmers are growing at a rapid rate and Thompson is recognized as a mentor who gave strength to this movement.