WATAUGA — Shipley Farms has been a hallmark of Watauga County for around 150 years, and in journalist and author Even Peter Smith’s new book, “Here by the Owl,” Smith unravels a little known history of Robert Gray Shipley and his outsized impact on modern agriculture that reaches from every grocery store to the International Space Station.

During World War II, Robert Shipley was working stateside teaching people how to operate tail turret gunners on airplanes when he was selected for what the military only told him was a “special mission,” Smith said.

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