Ohio Farmer magazine has announced the selection of three Ohio farm couples to be recognized as 2013 Ohio Master Farmers. Nancy and Jim Patterson from Chesterland, Brenda and Jim VanTilburg from Celina, and Brenda Butler and Joe Celuch from Frazeysburg were chosen for the award.
"We are honored to be able to recognize three of the state's most accomplished farm couples for their work not only in agronomic production, but also in community service, stewardship and sharing their expertise with others," said Tim White, editor of Ohio Farmer. "In their own ways, they have each helped to shape Ohio's agriculture and build this industry which is the cornerstone of Ohio's economy."
The awards will be presented during the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada, Ohio, on March 5.
Joe Celuch and Brenda Butler are proof that a couple can get started in farming today. Following a rotational-grazing system for beef production, the twosome has earned high recognition for their conservation-based operation near Frazeysburg. Their farm received the Conservation Farm Family Award in 2012. In 2011, Celuch and Butler were named Cooperators of the Year by the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District. They have also been recognized for their commitment to the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Stewardship Program.
Jim and Brenda VanTilburg will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in August. With Brenda handling the office and keeping the books and Jim developing new enterprises, they have seen the family farm near Celina in Mercer County grow by leaps and bounds since it was incorporated in 1977. In 2010, Jim and Brenda stepped back and let their three sons, Matt, Luke and Kyle, take the reins of the business. All three have been involved in the farm for the last 10 years, and like their parents, benefit from an ability to divide the operation based on interests and talents.
Few couples have provided more leadership to Ohio agriculture than Jim and Nancy Patterson of Chesterland. Jim served as a trustee for Ohio State University from 1994 to 2003. He was president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation from 1985 to 1989, and a Geauga County commissioner from 1969 to 1982. He currently serves on the Geauga County Park Board. Nancy provided leadership that helped the Ohio 4-H Foundation build the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center by heading up the Friends of 4-H fundraising committee. The effort raised $15.5 million to build the first-ever Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design "green" building on the OSU campus.
All the while, they were running Patterson Fruit Farms, which has been in Jim's family since 1826. Although the day-to-day management of the farm has been passed to their sons Bill and Dave, and their wives, Mindy and Pam, Jim and Nancy still are involved in many activities at the farm, which grows apples, peaches, strawberries and pumpkins, and produces maple syrup to sell at their on-farm market. The Pattersons also have a daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Mike Swiger. In all, they have six grandchildren, ages 2 to 10. And all of them live on the farm.