Huneycutts of Arkadelphia are the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year
From growing crops and raising cattle on their land to hosting weddings in their rural-glam barn, the Huneycutt family of Arkadelphia does it all.
Well, maybe the Huneycutts — who live in South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative territory — don’t actually make honey. But one can certainly pick up a jar in the family’s store; yes, they own and operate the new meat market in town, too.
In the summer of 2022, the seventh-generation, multiskilled Clark County clan was announced as West Central District Farm Family of the Year. Then in December, at an Arkansas Farm Bureau Foundation luncheon in Little Rock, the Huneycutts were named the 2022 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have been a longtime sponsor of the recognition program, which began in 1947.
For more than 35 years, brothers Ted and Steve Huneycutt — son of Reba and the late Ted Huneycutt Sr. (who were Clark County Farm Family of the Year in 1968) — have farmed the land that their great-grandfather, Calvin Huneycutt, purchased back in the 1880s. Ted and his wife, Cindy, have four adult children: Sara, Trey, Luke and Greyson. Steve and his wife, Leanne, have four adult children: Josh, Jessica, Ashley and Logan. On the morning of this June interview, there are 11 grandchildren; another is expected in two weeks.
Before the family comes together for photos at “the lodge,” a multipurpose, modern-rustic office/gathering place/hunting lodge across from the thriving corn fields, Ted discusses earning the state honors, represented by plaques on the stone mantel.
“It’s humbling because we don’t do anything different than every other farmer in the state does,” Ted says. “The other district winners or the county winners could have just as easily been chosen to be the Farm Family of the Year. Everybody works hard.
“I don’t know why they picked us, but we’re proud of it!”
All In the Family
On 4,000 acres, the family raises cattle (Steve and Josh) in Dalark and grows cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and hay (Ted and Greyson) in Arkadelphia. Out of the lodge, Ted also operates Benchmark Ag, a risk management service, providing producers with cash sale recommendations along with commodity future, options and crop insurance.
Next to the lodge is Richwoods, the events venue (Cindy, Leanne and Jessica). And in town is Ouachita Valley Meats (Luke and Jeffery Liggin, Sara’s husband) with the slogan: Farmers Feeding Families.
When they were young, Ted says, “Steve kind of took more interest in the cattle part; I took more interest in the crop part. He followed his passion there. And I followed mine. … I like to grow cotton; that’s my passion from a work standpoint.”
And he got an early start with that.
“We did everything; we raised our own gardens,” Ted says. “When I was about 10 years old, I told Dad I wanted to farm. He said, ‘Well, you start in the morning.’ And I started with the hoe crew, hoeing cotton. It wasn’t a hoe, it was a weed hook; we were hoeing cockleburs out of the cotton. I started pretty young, and Steve did as well. … Mom would be out there helping us. We grew up that way. My grandparents were right there, so when we gardened, it was family gathering under the oak tree to shell peas and shuck corn or whatever we needed to do.”
And now the brothers find history repeating itself as their children discover their own roles in the Huneycutts’ expanding enterprise.
Ted says, “Working with family is the best.” He adds with a chuckle, “I mean, it can be not so good sometimes. But our family really gets along, and it really is nice to work with family. Our grandkids live right across the road, and I can go over there anytime. It’s just a neat part.”
While the Huneycutts have been farming for more than 140 years, they’ve recently added other ventures. In 2016, the Huneycutts opened Richwoods (richwoodsvenue.com), an events venue run by Cindy, Leanne and Jessica. Their first wedding? The 2016 matrimony of Sara (Ted and Cindy’s daughter) to Jeffery, who now helps run the Huneycutts’ newest project, Ouachita Valley Meats. More on that after Richwoods.
The country-chic, two-story 6,300-square-foot barn can seat 250 people and offers several levels of event packages, from basic rental up to a “royal package,” including everything from catering and cake to florals and fireworks. The venue hosts 20 to 30 events a year, and the Huneycutts handle everything from décor to flowers to cooking.
“Lots and lots of effort goes into it,” Cindy says. “It takes everybody; I mean everybody just kind of does their part.” Which brings up perhaps the best part of working with family (as well as a few good friends), especially in today’s economy: dependability.
“To find an employee now, you can’t do it,” Cindy says, adding that with her family, “Everybody’s always here. … And you just can’t get that kind of loyalty.”
Fewer than 10 miles to the north of Richwoods, Luke and Jeffery (Richwoods’ first groom) are handling the lunch rush at Ouachita Valley Meats Website.
The truly farm-to-table butcher shop opened in March of this year with a focus on fresh, quality meats. Everything from the bacon to the sausage to the “snack sticks” (think jerky but superior) are processed in-house at the shop, which also sells hot plate lunches (“Today is rib day,” Ted explains. “Tomorrow’s brisket tacos”), made-to-order sandwiches and a variety of specialty products.
“The Lord has really blessed us, and the community has supported us, and it’s been really good,” Ted says about this latest endeavor. Although he could just as easily be talking about Huneycutt Farms as a whole.
As with the crops they produce, the Huneycutts’ goal is to keep growing.
“It’s a big responsibility to keep going and try to innovate new ways to be profitable,” Ted says. “Times change, and you’ve got to change with them.” And that means evolving as family members — and their interests — do.
“Not everybody wants to drive a tractor and sprayer and cotton picker,” Ted says. “We’ve always been entrepreneurial; everybody’s got different tastes and wants to do different things. We’re diversified enough that everybody can do some of what they want and enjoy it.”
“You hope that you’re a good enough steward to keep it going. That’s the big thing because on this place here, there’s seven generations of boots — well, the little ones, maybe tennis shoes — but you got foot tracks from seven generations on this place.” — Ted Huneycutt
That, after all, is the key to continuing the family’s long legacy.
“You hope that you’re a good enough steward to keep it going,” Ted says. “That’s the big thing because on this place here, there’s seven generations of boots — well, the little ones, maybe tennis shoes — but you got foot tracks from seven generations on this place.
“And that’s something we don’t take lightly.”
The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year recently announced its 2023 County Farm Families and District Farm Families. The 2023 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December.