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June 14, 2017

THE POLK COUNTY PULSE

13

Farm Family Polk County

of the Year

The Luke & Deedee Alston Family

A Special Supplement of the Online version available at MyPulseNews.com

MULTI-MEDIA

479-243-9600 • MyPulseNews.com 1168 Hwy 71 South • Mena, AR


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HOLLY SPRINGS HOMESTEAD & IRONS FORK CATTLE COMPANY BY MELANIE BUCK • news@mypulsenews.com

T

394-3373

Corner of 4th St. & Hwy 71

he pride that comes from working on a fifth generation farm is an unexplainable feeling, one that makes the chest burst and the heart swell, and one that creates a self-sufficient gratification that you want to keep passing down for many more generations to come. In the case of Luke and eedee Alston and their sons, 18-year old yan, and 13-year old rey, they are using their Holly Springs Homestead and Irons Fork Cattle Company operations as a place to pass down the agricultural culture, not just to their own children, but to neighbors and visitors alike. This is just one reason why the Alston’s were named as Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 2017 Farm Family of the Year for Polk County. Their implementation of commercial crops, cattle, pigs, bees, poultry production, and agri-tourism is becoming a model for others in the agricultural industry. For the Alstons, it was a conscious choice to leave the corporate world behind and get back to the basics, tilling od’s earth, helping to feed the world’s families, and doing it all shoulder to shoulder with their family. Luke and eedee both come from farming backgrounds and both left jobs in the corporate world to go back to their roots. “This is just what I was born to do,” said Luke. “I am living the dream.” But, they didn’t just go back to their roots they have expanded beyond anyone’s expectations, becoming a diversified commercial farming operation, and they aren’t finished yet. And to the Alston’s, diversification is a major key to their booming success, along with being very much a “faith led” operation, eedee explained. “We very much believe in managed growth,” as she shot a coy smile explaining that the family’s vision isn’t uite complete. A sign adorned with scripture from cclesiastes 3 sat on the porch that will soon hang above her greenhouse, “ … a time to plant and a time to harvest.” Luke jokingly explained that eedee’s prize greenhouse was her birthday, anniversary, and Christmas present all rolled into one and just another example of how their operation develops one project after another. In 201 , the couple started with the decision to leave their day jobs and build eight broiler houses to become poultry growers, with a much bigger

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Ouachita Equine Clinic

Serving all your small & large animal needs.

Congratulations to the Alston Family! 2017 Farm Family of the Year

Supercenter 67 • 600 Hwy 71 N, Mena

Congratulations to Luke & Deedee Alston! Proud to be your Vet of choice! Hours: Mon. Tues. Wed., and Fri. 8am-5pm Closed on Thurs.

479-394-7185

Randy J. Burgess D.V.M. • 2920 Hwy. 71 N, Mena, AR 71953


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THE POLK COUNTY PULSE

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15

vision in mind. “They thought they would have four, but seeing the income potential, they doubled their amount of houses. “We have not one day regretted it,” Luke said. With eight broiler houses, they have all the litter they need for their own pastures and hay land and they sell the rest for supplemental income. “We now can provide our cows with all the uality hay and forage they need and cut down on our feed costs. Also a benefit of the litter produced is more uality hay for us to sell, less acres covered with our machinery, which leads to less fuel costs and time spent in the field. It’s a win-win for us,” Luke explained. This philosophy of using one product for multiple benefits is evident throughout every facet of their farm. Their first batch of birds was delivered in anuary 201 and Luke says, “The chicken houses have added cash flow we never had in years past, which has allowed us to expand other portions of the farm.” any of those portions of the farm were created from eedee’s expounding energy, vision, and creative imagination. “ uring the time we experienced delays in the construction of our broiler farm, she became bored,” said Luke. That’s when eedee began sowing seeds, planting berries and vegetables. She also began converting a cabin on the property into a mercantile-type farm market, stocked with Arkansas ade and Arkansas rown products that include handcrafted soaps, sauces, jewelry, jams and jellies, uilts, beeswax candles made on the farm, as well as snacks, drinks, coffee, seeds, and more items too numerous to count. An old shed out front was easily converted to their own farmer’s market where fresh fruits and vegetables can be obtained seasonally. “Her marketing is personal, it reflects her heart,” Luke said. ne of eedee’s specialties is her ability to market the business throughout several mediums. In addition to advertising in local newspapers, tourism magazines, and on social media, the Alston’s have launched a Harvest Line’ where people

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Congratulations to the

Alston Family!

" P assing G as I s Not Ou r J ob , I t' s Ou r Life"

Ligon Oil Company Inc. • Mena Bulk Plant • 300 Maple Avenue • Mena, AR 71953 • 479-394-1543

Congratulations, to the Alston Family from all of us at

Congratulations, Polk County Farm Family 2017, The Luke & Deedee Alston Family! 515 Janssen, Mena

394-4140

710 4th Street • Mena, AR

Rex Dollar

1607 Hwy 71 N. 394-1027


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Congratulations,

Luke jokingly explained that Deedee’s prize greenhouse was her birthday, anniversary, and Christmas present all rolled into one and just another example of how their operation develops one project after another.

From

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16-17 can call in 2 7 to find out what is being harvested on the farm each day. The Harvest Line also gives updates on upcoming activities and special offerings. The number to call is 79- 37- 0 9. Their website, www.hollyspringshomestead.com, is also helpful. Holly Springs’ fresh veggies and fruit are picked daily right on the farm and include a large assortment. They often add new items to their list of crops. Currently, the Alston’s have set aside various portions of their 7.2 acres cropland for specific plants, with large yields coming from each crop. n just one- uarter of an acre, they can grow three tons of strawberries 2 0 bushels of sweet corn on 1. acres three varieties of thornless blackberries that yield 1, 00 lbs of produce 2. acres of pumpkins yields 2 ,000 lbs and one-half of an acre of muscadines produces 3,300 lbs. That is in addition to the two-acres they use for various tomatoes, okra, s uashes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, and more, that produces 10,000 to 0,000 lbs. per

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Luke and Deedee!!

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Mineral Tubs with Enzymes for Cattle and Horses Guaranteed Products

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9 1 8 .6 5 8 .8 4 7 1

wannranch.org dbwann@ windstream.net


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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18 acre based on the crops planted there. They also use 20 acres for hay production, 390 acres for pasture, and smaller portions for their honey bees, cut flowers, field corn and specialty crops. With all that, comes a lot of work. The Alstons work together to make sure it all gets done, with the added help sometimes of family, church family, and friends. In fact, the Alstons just hired their first full-time employee to assist with the poultry operation. Still yet, the family’s operation has so much more. They have 80 head of Angus cows with calves and three herd bulls, one of which is Luke’s pride and joy. Luke and his father bred Hitch. “He is the epitome of what an Angus bull should be.” He said Hitch is “our best herd sire that has ever graced the fields here.” That is saying a lot when you are standing on a farm that began in 1897. “We strive to do our best to hold true to our roots and produce better than expected animals.” Their cattle company, Irons Fork Cattle Company (formerly Irons Fork Angus), is well known for their premium cattle. They also provide cattle supplement and Bovazyme enzyme protein lick tubs. Luke also serves as Vice President on the board of the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association, is a board member for the Arkansas State Cattlemen’s Association, and is part of the 2017 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class. “It is a personal goal of mine to introduce as many younger folks to the cattle business as I can. Not everyone had a grandpa like mine or was raised knowing this stuff like I was and I want to share what I know in hopes of keeping

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Congratulations to the 2017 Polk County Farm Family of the Year! The Luke and Deedee Alston Family of Mena Rodney Lott Auto Repair

101 Ward Lane, Mena

479-394-1662

Congratulations!

LICENSED RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL CONTRACTOR

WE CAN DO IT ALL

2017 Polk County Farm Family of the Year

Luke & Deedee Alston Family

from The Polk County Cattleman’s Association

Congratulations to

Luke & Deedee Alston 2017 Polk County Farm Family

JAMES EARL TURNER (479) 234-6244 ERIC TURNER (479) 243-5549


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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 people in this business.” Deedee serves as the Polk County Farm B ureau Women’s Committee Chair. And indeed, through their educational programs and agri-tourism, they are teaching them in masses. They began their agri-tourism operation in 2 0 1 6 and was themed on old-time homesteading practices giving kids and adults, alike, the opportunity to see the way things were done in simpler times and when things were handmade and homegrown. To implement this philosophy, the family held their first annual Farm Tour in ay 201 , which included hay rides around the property to view the transformation, hominy making demonstrations, Dutch oven demonstrations, vendors such as the U ofA Extension S ervice, aster ardeners, xtension Homemakers, and Beekeepers, set up tables with educational materials and gave demonstrations as well. They plan to host the 2 nd Annual Farm Tour on S aturday, J une 1 7 , 2 0 1 7 with a day full of activities even larger than last year’s. Another teaching tool they have used was their six-acre corn maze. Deedee and their niece created game cards for the maze with agricultural facts that could be solved as visitors made their way through the tall golden corn stalks. I n 2 0 1 6 , over 1 ,4 0 0 individuals paid to visit the corn maze and pumpkin patch, with group tours given to an additional 6 7 2 areas students of all ages. To keep the kids busy, the family created a Kids Farm. Luke said with the

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Congratulations to Luke & Deedee Alston, the Polk County Farm Family of the Year ® The Natural Choice for Community Banking

Mena

479-243-0123 diamondbanking.com

P olk C ou nty 309 S. Morrow, Mena

479-394-3650


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THE POLK COUNTY PULSE

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 20 help of church friends, they “recreated my wife’s childhood with the simple, yet fun things she grew up playing as a child.” The Kids Farm includes the most popular, Adeline’s Mud Pie Kitchen, bucking barrels, a climbing wall, slack line, old time tree swings, ladder ball, tether ball, photo booths and a hay maze mountain, Crazy Croquet, Yard Dominoes, a club house, and their own Kids’ Picking Garden, where they can harvest seasonal produce. They also give farm-to-table demonstrations, farm tours, and educational events for groups and universities, and are available for birthday parties, weddings, and photo shoots. “We love being able to be educators. People who visit our farm are hungry for that knowledge and we feel that planting these seeds about where food comes from, the importance of agriculture to our world, and the huge economic impact that agriculture has on our state, is something we enjoy and take pride in,” Luke explained. And, to add to their chore list, the Alstons also have a commercial hay and haylage operation that offers mowing, raking, baling, wrapping and stacking services. And still yet, they are bursting at the seams to expand further. Their goals include setting up an agricultural education display called The Crops of Arkansas to display and educate on the crops on the Eastern side of the state that are huge economic players in agriculture in

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Congratulations to the Alston Family for receiving the Farm Family honor!

Congratulations

Luke & Deedee Alston Family of Mena 2017 Polk County Farm Family of the Year

We appreciate your business! Same location for over 45 years 479-394-1351 • 800-394-1351 201 Hwy. 71 N., Mena Mon.-Fri. 7am-6pm, Sat. 8am-4pm

Mena’s ONLY locally owned and operated parts store

3357 Hwy 71 N • 394-1394


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THE POLK COUNTY PULSE

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We feel everything we have done and been able to accomplish is because God has ordained it.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21

Arkansas, but that no one here ever sees - so now people can take the hay ride through this display and see it actually growing - peanuts, cotton, soybean, rice, sorghum, and pearl millett. “We will be the first rice farmers in Polk County,” said a proud eedee. They also want to develop a farmstay’ vacation rental, construct a 3,200 s . ft. high tunnel, expand their SNAP benefit accepted products, expand their berry farm, and much, much more. sing their officially recognized Century Farm to bring their family together, teach others self-sustainability, and feed the masses, the Alston’s have taken their heritage and gone back to the simple life. “We should’ve done it sooner,” smiled Luke, “but it wasn’t od’s timing. Now, neither one of us has looked back.” The Alstons, like so many of today’s farmers, have not only preserved a way of life but have also embraced technology. Being the most diverse farmers in the state, the Alstons stepped out and stepped up big, but admit they couldn’t have done it without od’s help. “This was all born out of a delay in construction and the fact that I am high energy and needed something to do, so I started planting. The next thing you know, we’re putting up our own honey and selling it. The Farmstand was a carport, but made the perfect place for a market. ur niece is great at making signage. We feel everything we have done and been able to accomplish is because od has ordained it.” Their niece, mily, comes from a long line of professional artists like Tyrone Lewis, Paul Lewis, Barba-

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J & B L IQ U ID F E E D & F E R T IL IZ E R

We proudly salute the

Farm Family of the Year

F E E D ,F E R T I L I Z E R J erry &

The Luke and Deedee

Alston Family

Blackwell’s Poultry Bedding • 187 Polk Rd 86, Mena • 479-394-2706

&

MO R E

B arb ara H ansb rou g h

W

es t ern L i v es t oc k Mi neral • P ro E nerg y C at t l e F eed C u s t om Sp ray i ng • P es t i c i d es • H erb i c i d es

479-2 43-5608 • 1 357 P ol k 74, Mena www. j andb liq u idfeedandfertiliz er. com j andb liq u idfeedandfertiliz er@ g mail. com

C ong rat u l at i ons

L u k e & D eed ee A l s t on F arm F amily of th e Year


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ra Lewis and she does all the graphic design on the property including the corn maze design and paintings on the farm. “Each component of our operation is important,” explained Luke Alston. “R aising cattle represents my family and a generation of Alston’s who took great pride in being cattlemen. Equally, the poultry houses provide a consistent revenue stream and a means of improving our land, while the agri-tourism business provides a whole other level of diversification that means we reduce the potential risks that come with investing in only one or two commodities.” Anyone familiar with the size and diversity of the Alston operation believes them to be very strong contenders to win at the state level. As for Luke, he said it would be incredible and sees it as an opportunity to honor their families that came before them that passed on the passion and appreciation the couple share for farming… and for that reason, Luke humbly says, “I want it. I want to be the S tate Farm Family of the Year.” To see the success for yourself, visit H olly S prings H omestead at 2 1 7 Polk R oad 1 8 4 , or just turn down Polk R oad 7 4 ( also known as Holly Springs oad), just past uke’s unction, and continue five miles down and look for signs on your left. The Alstons would be glad to have you!

Congratulations to the Alston Family! Waldron Complex • 442 Plant Street • 479-637-2121

Farm Family 2017  
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