Reed Farms to be honored

Members of the Reed Family, as well as Reed Farms employees, are (front, from left) Chad Howard, Gia Reed, MikeReed, Shirley Anderson, Ron Anderson, Jay Reed, Shelley Reed; Courtney Reed (back row, from left) Sidney Reed,Blaine MIller, Holly Miller, Kendal Gentry, Dalton Gentry and Kyle Reed. Photo by Joseph Slacian

By Joseph Slacian

The Reed Farms is the epitome of a family farm.

Started in 1928 by Garber Wright, it is now being overseen by the fourth and fifth generations of the family.

Garber’s son, Ed Wright, ran the farm, as did Ed’s son, Fred, and son-in-law, Jim Reed.

Today, Garber’s great-grandsons, Mike and Jay Reed oversee operations. His great-great-grandson, Kyle Reed, is the fifth generation of the family to be involved in the business.

Because of the family’s longstanding place in the Wabash County farming community, Grow Wabash County has named the Reed family and Reed Farms the 2018 Wabash County Farm Family of the Year. They will be honored Tuesday, March 19, at a dinner at the Heartland REMC Building.

The family was humbled to learn it had been selected to receive the honor.

“My first reaction was like, ‘Wow, why us?’” Mike Reed said. “I mean, Wabash County has a lot of good farmers in the county. I was kind of humbled a little bit, to be honest with you.”

Brother Jay added, “I was, too.”

“I got the call (from the Grow Wabash County committee) and was like, ‘Can this be true?’” Jay continued. “We’re very humbled.”

Kyle, who is Mike’s son, said, “It just felt like a great honor to know that people in the county know that we try to do a good job.”

Since Garber began the farm, located on County Road 400 N, in 1928, there have been many changes in the industry and, consequently, to the farm.

“Through the years they’ve raised chickens,” Jay said of the farm’s 91-year history. “We’ve raised popcorn. Grandpa had a certified Angus herd for about 11 years. Mike and I fed cattle until about 1996, and then we decided to get out of the cattle business. Now we’re pretty much grain farming.”

Today the family farms corn, beans and wheat on its nearly 2,300 acres. It also custom farms another 1,000 acres.
“Custom farming is basically where we just do all the work, and the guys we farm for have all the expenses and decisions to make,” Jay explained.

The family also have been independent sales reps for Pioneer Seeds for 44 years

But as in any business, things change.

When Kyle joined the operation, the family re-entered the livestock business as well, raising hogs.

“A lot of kids go to college my age,” Kyle said. “I chose to build a hog house. My dad and uncle gave me a great opportunity to help me get this done. They provided me some land to help me build a hog house. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Kyle’s operation raises hogs from about 10 to 12 days old until they reach 285 pounds.

“So, roughly five or six months is how long I have them,” he said.

Mike said he’s glad to see his son interested in joining the family business.

“Being a family farm, you want it to go on,” he said. “There are not very many kids that have the opportunity to do it or, if they do have the opportunity to do it, there’s not very many kids Kyle’s age getting into ag. Kyle wanted to farm, so that was a way for us to give him an opportunity to have the hog barn.”

The Reed brothers entered the family business at a young age.

“We had some deaths in the family,” Jay said. “We pretty much had to start making decisions when we were 22 and 20 years old, almost right out of high school. I guess we’ve kind of grown into that decision making process.”

The brothers have found a way to make it work. Each has his own area of expertise, and it is that part of the farm each is responsible for.

“Jay runs the combine and corn planter, so he kind of places the seed on the farm, what he likes, don’t like,” Mike said, noting that Kyle planted his first crop with the bean planter in 2018. “I handle all the spraying and chemical purchases and run the grain set-up.”

Kyle has a variety of roles on the farm.

“I’m the young gun, so I do a lot of the grunt work, a lot of the heavy lifting,” he said. “Changing oil, servicing, cleaning out grain bins, that sort of stuff.”

The Reeds also have two part-time employees, Chad Howard and Randy Miller.

“Randy delivers seed and drives the semis,” said Mike. “Chad does anything we ask of him. They’re two really good employees. They don’t give you any problems. They know how we like things done. They just get it done, no questions asked.

“It relieves a lot of stress in really busy times.”

In the past, the brothers also have received help from their step-father, Ronald Anderson.

“When I came out I started doing small things,” he said.  “I worked the ground for them, drove trucks.”

As some things in farming change, other things stay the same. The Reed brothers’ stewardship to the land is one of those things that haven’t changed.

“We were in a cover crop system for three years,” Jay said. “We’ve done a lot of waterway work, the buffer strips along the water inlets to the open ditches. We’ve practiced no-till. We do very minimum tillage, as far as our crops go.
“We’ve tiled a lot of ground here lately. That really helps the quality of ground we’re producing off of.”

The efforts extend to Kyle’s hog operation, as well.

“I put in a retention pond,” he said. “It helps with excess runoff from the hog house roof line during a heavy rain event.”
Their family and neighbors also consider them good stewards of the land.

“If they see something that they think will improve the ground and the way it helps with their crops, they’re out front,” their step-father said. “They’re always trying to find a new way with the soil so it doesn’t erode.”

Neighbors Christian Rosen and Steven Grossman agree.

“They are very good stewards,” Rosen said. “They’re innovative … when it comes to planting, fertilizer, nitrogen, chemicals. They’ve been involved in the Wabash County Soil and Water Conservation District, and they have waterway buffer strips. They’re very good stewards.”

Grossman said, “They do a good job trying to set a standard in our area. They’re on the leading edge of ag in the industry. They just set a good standard for everyone to look at and work toward what they’re doing.”

Their conservation efforts have earned the Reeds the 2011 Wabash County Conservation Farmers of the Year award.

Their respect for the land, and for their neighbors, have, in turn, earned them the respect of those who live nearby.

“The Reeds are very helpful as a neighbor, if you’re in need,” Rosen said. “They’re always there to help you out if you’re in need. As a neighbor, you couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.”

Grossman has seen that generosity firsthand.

“My dad was in a farming accident in 2003,” he recalled. “They came over and stepped right in and helped us chop silage, bail hay and straw, and they didn’t even bat an eye at it.”

Jay said the brothers “just try to be good stewards, good neighbors. If we feel like we’ve messed something up, or sprayed something wrong, we’ll go talk to them and tell them what the situation is. We’re just fortunate to have good neighbors.”

The family also contributes to the Wabash County 4-H Fair, according to Curt Campbell, Purdue Extension – Ag & Natural Resources Educator for Wabash County.

“Over the years we’ve participated in buying kids’ animals at the auctions,” Mike said.

As in any business, things change. But where Reed Farms will be in 10 or 20 years remains to be seen.

“I guess we’ve never really have had a plan that says 10 years down the road we want to be farming 10,000 acres,” Jay said. “That’s not going to happen. Usually if an opportunity pops up, and we feel like we can handle it, and we can manage it as good as our current acres and it fits into our operation, we usually talk about it and go forward with it.”

And what would their Great-Grandpa Garber, Grandpa Ed, Uncle Fred and their father, Jim, think of what they’ve done with the farm over the years?

“I think they would be extremely happy and proud for the family,” Jay said. “Dad always said to us, surround yourselves around good quality people and you'll be successful, so far that has worked.  

Mike believes his elders would have a sense of pride in the job they did, and would be extremely humbled by the Farm Family of the Year nomination.

“The technology that's required today in agriculture would blow their mind,” he added.

The honor is something that the family will never forget.

“I would like once again just to thank anyone who has had any part of this,” Jay said. “It was a total shock for me when we learned about this and we accepted it. We would just like to thank all of our family and friends, vendors, anyone who has had any kind of partnership with this family farm.”

And Mike quickly adds, “Last but not least, we couldn’t do it without the good Lord.”

Posted on 2019 Mar 12