The Homestead Rendezvous

Farmers with smaller operations gather every year in Jefferson County for The Homestead Rendezvous.

It’s an opportunity to market their products to like-minded peers and the public while swapping best practices and sharing common challenges they face in an ever-changing ag market.

Bob and Polly Givens, who operate Givens Tree Farms and are long-time members of Jefferson County Farm Bureau, are the founders of the event. Polly is executive director/nurse manager of the Alliance Pregnancy Center and co-owner/operator of Givens Tree Farms. Bob is a retired agricultural teacher.

CAUV may be thought of as more of a help to medium- and large-sized farmers, and Bob noted that one of the challenges he encounters is convincing homestead farmers that CAUV can be a great help to them as well.

“A lot of small homesteads are located in suburban areas; therefore their acres will be taxed as undeveloped building lots,” he said. “That (acreage) used for ag would be valued at $5,000 to $6,000 per acre, compared to $40,000 to $60,000 per acre as a building lot. Most (homesteaders) have moved from urban or suburban areas and are unaware of the advantages of CAUV.”

Bob shared the example that his own 500-acre farm plus homesite is taxed at $7,000 per year through CAUV compared to the $30,000 it would be taxed as potential home development.

“We attempt to inform all small landowners-homesteaders of the advantages of CAUV (through The Homestead Rendezvous initiative),” he said. “When CAUV first started in the 1970s, I was an ag teacher in Alliance, Ohio, and our school auditorium was used for the general information sessions for area farmers. I heard from farmers then that they were worried the government was trying to control and take over their farms. Some of the same concerns are still around.”

Bob and Polly Givens
Farm Bureau members Bob and Polly Givens of Jefferson County have been advocates for small homestead farmers like themselves for many years, including hosting an annual Homestead Rendezvous vendor event in their county.

Protecting CAUV in its current state is important to Bob. He recalled many years ago when a Summit County commissioner stated that ‘we don’t need farms. We get our food from the grocery store and the county needs the tax money the farmers aren’t paying.’

“With that kind of ignorance of the role Ohio agriculture plays in local, state, and national economies, we need as many protections and advantages as possible,” he said.

Farm Bureau provides those protections by working to preserve and maintain CAUV for members and farmers throughout the state, as well as other advocacy efforts that are important to ag and rural communities as a whole, such as water quality.

“Farm Bureau has such strong advocacy for rural Ohio. For example, when environmental groups and the federal government wanted to severely restrict property owner’s water rights, Farm Bureau stepped up to spearhead the efforts to protect them,” Polly said, “Farmers developed best practices to maintain clean water and water-use rights for all Ohioans. Farm Bureau is a big part of that. We have many lakes and ponds, and our 490 acres contribute to the Yellow Creek watershed. Protecting the watershed and our access to the water is very important to us.” (Read a copy of the 2024 Water Quality Status Report.)

The Homestead Rendezvous is a field day geared to the small landowner and those interested in becoming more self-sufficient while supporting the local economy. Agricultural businesses, ag agencies, homesteaders, and small farmers are on-site to sell their products, promote their businesses, and meet customers the third weekend in May.

Additional workshops and classes are offered throughout the year on homesteading topics such as canning, chainsaw use, gardening and more.

Online extra: What qualifies for CAUV?

To qualify for CAUV, land must meet one of the following requirements during the three years preceding an application for CAUV:

  • 10 or more acres must be devoted exclusively to commercial agricultural use; or
  • If under 10 acres are devoted exclusively to commercial agricultural use, the farm must produce an average yearly gross income of at least $2,500.

Applications for CAUV must be filed with the county auditor.
Source: Ohio Department of Taxation

Photos by Ty Higgins

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
The plan we are on is great. It’s comparable to my previous job's plan, and we are a sole proprietor.
Kevin Holy's avatar
Kevin Holy

Geauga County Farm Bureau

Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan
We work terrifically with the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, hosting at least one to two outreach town hall events every year to educate new farmers and existing farmers on traditional CAUV and woodlands.
David Thomas's avatar
David Thomas

Ashtabula County Auditor

CAUV: Past, present and future
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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