They came from all points around Ohio to learn more about not only how small farmers are making a difference locally, but how they can impact small agricultural operations all over. Members of the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals visited the farm of Russ and Mendy Sellman in rural Galion as part of its summer outreach program.
Three different tours were available to attendees. Approximately 32 adults, youth and children took the tour which included a stop at Malabar Farms, Rus-Men Farms and Pleiades Maple Farm. Other groups spent time at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and Bristol Dairy Farms, or enjoying family time and activities in Mohican State Park.
At Rus-Men Farms, attendees were introduced to two generations of family farmers. Mendy and Russ are the sixth generation to farm the land west of Galion, and their two adult children represent the seventh. Mendy’s comment about daughter Emilee and her husband Dustin Tate moving into the “home farm” brought smiles to many listeners’ faces. A number of attendees were hoping to make a difference in the future of their own families’ farms. Along with her brother Jesse, Amilee has prepared for a farming life. Mendy emphasized the importance of making farming rewarding for subsequent generations.
The Sellmans talked about their experiences over the last 15 years as they have developed their operation to the point where Russ was able to quit his non-farm job, growing and diversifying it often in response to customer comments and requests.
Russ explained they have three different cattle situations ongoing. The largest of these is the raising of Holsteins for meat production, as many at 60 cattle are finished and processed for consumer use each month. Cattle arrive at Rus-Men Farms at around 400 pounds, and go through several feeding stages until they are finished out at between 1200 and 1400 pounds. Meat is processed weekly to ensure fresh product available for sale in their on farm retail store, The Farmers Wife, as well as at area farmers markets. They also provide “contract cattle” to other outlets.
Rus-Men Farms also raises chickens eight to nine months per year. As the visitors toured the various buildings on the farm they were able to observe several different kinds of movable pens (tractors) housing multiple breeds of meat chickens. They also raise feeder hogs. The family is constantly looking for ways to expand their operation in ways that reflect their commitment to the local economy.
The Sellmans emphasized their frugal approach to farm operations. The small building housing chickens until they can be moved into the tractors is an old shed from a family member’s home. Construction pallets and crates create space for brand-new chicken peeps. Nothing is thrown away, waiting until it can be repurposed around the farm.
The Sellmans also spoke of their commitment to helping others in their community who are interested in growing and eating local products. They sponsor a community garden and are available to speak to groups.