Whether they’re producing on a 10-acre start-up farm or in a 1,000-acre family partnership, the faces behind our food are changing. In the coming years, an aging generation of farmers is preparing to leave the field, and passionate young people are eager to get growing. To recognize the importance of extending Ohio’s farming legacy, Ohio Farm Bureau annually honors two young people who are helping to lead the way into the future. Here are the stories of this year’s winners.
Ohioans want to know how their food is raised and who is raising it. Farmer Erik Scott learned this when he met the chef at Murphin Ridge Inn, which features a fine dining restaurant in Adams County. The chef was interested in offering a local, seasonal menu and Scott wanted to provide the beef. There was one stipulation—the chef wanted to see Scott’s farm in nearby Georgetown.
“He was here for probably two hours looking at the cattle out in the field. He started talking to us about how we handle livestock and why we do these things,” Scott said.
“It just kind of drives home the notion that people want to know their farmer. They want to know the guy that’s growing those cattle, to know that he’s taking care of them the right way, to know that he’s giving them the best within his grasp.”
Outstanding Young Farmer
Scott is the recipient of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farmer award, which recognizes farmers age 35 and younger for the growth of their farm business and involvement in Farm Bureau and the community.
For Scott, connecting with customers is an important part of farming. He enjoys talking about his cattle, tobacco and grain farm and doesn’t shy away from meeting with nonfarmers to promote his livelihood, whether it’s at grocery stores or from the back door of his home where the family sells freezer beef. His goal is to establish a storefront at his Walnut Run Farm to sell his all natural fed beef. The location is ideal not only because it’s along busy State Route 68 but also because customers will be able to see how he raises his cattle.
The knowledge Scott gained from attending Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute has helped expand and improve the 38-year-old family farm. For example, using GPS to apply fertilizer has allowed the farm to reduce costs, increase efficiency and better address environmental concerns.
Scott’s love of farming didn’t sink in until he had an off-farm job. He quit a high-paying job at General Electric after just three months. He simply missed being outside and being his own boss. Growing up on a farm and continuing the family farming tradition has had its rewards.
“I can tell you exactly how hard it is to come by a dollar,” Scott said. “I think it has shaped me in every way possible. It’s made me all of who I am.”
Excellence in Agriculture
In a sea of brown, a strip of green stands out. To Greg McGlinch, that year-round bit of green serves as a giant billboard for his farm and agriculture. It draws people in to ask what he’s growing that’s so bright and alive. A couple of years ago during a dry August, his radish crop, which is planted to help break up the soil, was about the only green piece of land near his home in Versailles.
“You could see it from the road. It was a good conversation piece,” McGlinch said. “People would stop by and pull (the radishes) up. They wanted to see them, touch them and eat them.”
McGlinch welcomes all types of questions about his farm and his work for the Darke County Soil and Water Conservation District where he helps farmers find the best way to apply nutrients to the soil. He is Ohio Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture winner, which recognizes successful young people 35 years old or younger who are involved in farming but whose primary occupation is off the farm.
McGlinch is the fifth generation on the farm and lives with his wife, Janet, and their three young children in a house built in 1923. He operates a grain farm with his parents and raises hogs, chickens and eggs for local customers. He’s proud of his Buckeye chickens, a rare, colorful breed that originated in Ohio. He likes showing his farm to customers who stop by for fresh eggs or to buy a hog.
“I have a lot of people that buy hogs from me because they know where they come from. They know I feed it to my family,” he said. “If we can make that connection, then we can make a lot of headway. Putting a face with the product is key, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do here.”
Knowing the importance of soil conservation, McGlinch uses a lot of cover crops, which are living green plants that survive over the winter and help retain nutrients for the next growing season. He’s grown cereal rye, oats, peas, sudan grass and radishes. The rye is sold to a nearby distillery.
In his job, McGlinch works with both rural and urban communities on how to maintain water quality. He’s helped on rain barrel and rain garden projects (which reduce storm water runoff) and has given soil and water presentations in schools.
“Everybody benefits from water quality … (whether) it comes from recreation, fishing or just the overall enjoyment of the water,” he said.
Working full time on and off the farm can be challenging but McGlinch wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I tell everybody that I do this for my kids,” he said. “If I’m doing it right then I can be a good role model for my kids, and they’ll know how to do it in the future.”
Meet Greg McGlinch and Erik Scott via these short YouTube videos.