This month’s farm family in the Young Producer spot light is the Von Gruenigen’s. They run a beef cattle operation in Garrard County consisting of around 90 momma cows and when the market is right they purchase fall feeders. They do commercial cows and influence their herd with whatever pure bred bull will provide the desired genetic improvements. They also put up all their own hay.
Both SaraVard and Matthew also work full time jobs, Matthew at Sherman Williams in Richmond and SaraVard at Ag Credit in Stanford. SaraVard and loves her job and the company and the opportunities that they are able to provide for their customers.
She developed an interest in farming as a child when her grandfather farmed but when he passed away when she was in the 8th grade, the farming operation came to a halt. When she got into high school, she still had a yearning to be involved in agriculture and it was then that she decided to major in the field. She received her undergrad from EKU with a major in Agriculture and a minor in Business and during the end of her schooling, interned for the Kentucky Beef Council.
As I had also interned for the Beef Council, we talked and talked about how life changing the experience was! “My internship opened so many doors for me and I’m forever indebted to all the people at KCA for that opportunity. I made contacts and gained knowledge and experience that I never would have if it weren’t for my internship! It was an invaluable experience that taught me about beef from a consumer standpoint and I am to this day a huge beef advocate! I learned where our check off dollar was going and can honestly say it’s totally worth it. I still have friends and family calling me for beef tips and recipes and Matthew really appreciates all the cooking tips I gained from the experience,” laughs SaraVard.
SaraVard helps on the farm as much as possible and runs the books for the operation. Matthew is more of the farm manager and the day to day care taker. SaraVard calls him the ‘brunt of the farming operation’. He’s been farming with his uncle since “his foot could reach a tractor clutch” and farming has been his passion since that time. His experience speaks for the influence that an experienced farmer can have on a young farmer. “I’m so thankful for all the help I’ve had from my family and my experienced cattle friends! I would never be where I am without them. They’ve done everything from give me advice on the phone to coming out to my farm when I have a sick calf!” He went on to explain that he wished farmers could understand how helpful their advice is to a new farmer and hopes this can inspire more farmers to reach out to farmers who are getting on their feet.
Both SaraVard and Matthew are also excited to network with a group of successful young farmers who can relate more with the struggles of starting out in this generation. “Farming is different now than it used to be,” says Matthew, “these are people who can help us figure out how to overcome the obstacles of farming today, because it’s different than it was even 5 years ago. There’s a lot you can learn through education but there’s a lot you just have to get out there and figure out the hard way. If we can share those things with each other, our jobs will be a whole lot easier.”
SaraVard and Matthew are really working hard to have a successful farming operation and are hoping that the newest addition of their family will carry on the tradition. That’s right! They are expecting a baby boy on Halloween of this year and his name will be ‘Ken Tuck’.
“I’m happy to have a child in a farming environment. There’s so much they can gain from it: work ethic, life skills, family traditions, pride in what your family has done for so many generations and just knowing that you can continue what they’ve started- being a good steward of the land,” says SaraVard.
Feature written by Sara Neumeister