Mena family named Arkansas Farm Family of the Year
Luke and Deedee Alston, members of Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative of Mena, were recently named the 2017 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year.
“Unbelievable. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want it or think that possibly we had worked hard enough to earn such a title,” Luke said. “I was born to do this. Few people I know get to wake up every morning and spend all day long working at something they love. Since I left corporate America, I haven’t had a job. This is not a job for me. It’s my way of life.”
The Alstons, who have two sons, Ryan and Drey, operate a diverse agritourism business known as “Holly Springs Homestead.” In addition to Angus cattle and an eight-house broiler chicken operation, the farm also includes a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Strawberries, sweet corn, blackberries, pumpkins, muscadines, flowers, tomatoes, okra, peppers and more are grown as part of the Alstons’ enterprise. Luke also offers a commercial hay and haylage service where he mows, rakes, bales, wraps and stacks hay.
“We congratulate Luke and Deedee Alston on being named the 2017 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach. “Luke and Deedee left successful off-farm careers to develop their farm, and Holly Springs Homestead has become a successful, family-friendly agritourism business in just a few short years. This honor is testament to their faith and determination to make their farm a destination for many.”
The Alstons are active in Polk County Farm Bureau, and Luke serves as vice president of the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association, and is a member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association board.
Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year program, now in its 70th year, is the longest-running farm family recognition program of its type in the United States. It begins with selection of the top farm family in each county. Then, eight district Farm Families of the Year are selected. The competition is judged on production, efficiency and management of farm operations, family life and rural/community leadership and values.
“The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are proud to be able to support the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program and the families who work tirelessly to ensure we have the food and fiber we rely on daily,” said Rob Roedel, manager of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Our sincere congratulations to the Alstons and the district winners.”
The Alstons were selected from the eight 2017 District Farm Family of the Year winners:
- Brandon and Jessica Chapman of Scott (Pulaski County), East Central District;
- Chris and Heather Tharp of Floral (Independence County), North Central District;
- Eddie and Annette Wray of Trumann (Poinsett County), Northeast District;
- Cedar Corner Farm of Stuttgart (North Arkansas County), Southeast District;
- Rocking CK Farms of Garland (Miller County), Southwest District;
- Gittlein Farms of Maysville (Benton County), Northwest District;
- Will and Sidney Bailey of De Queen (Sevier County), West Central District.
As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the Alstons will compete in the 2018 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program. A winner will be named from among 10 southeastern state winners in October in Moultrie, Georgia.