Hart Family named 2016 Mississippi County Farm Family
The Hart Family of Osceola and Manila is the 2016 Mississippi County Farm Family of Year. Their farming life started in 1960 with James "Jimmy" Hart farming 40 acres.
Jimmy did not grow up on the farm. He was raised working in an auto parts store. He said he and a partner were buying and selling heavy equipment when they ran into two brothers who had decided to quit farming. Jimmy bought the equipment, started farming and the rest is history.
Jimmy has two sons, Gary and Buddy Hart.
Buddy decided not to go into farming and stayed with the parts store. Later he went to work at the steel mill.
Gary came back to the farm after college working with his dad. They continued to increase acreage to the 8,500 acre operation of today. Gary's two sons, Greg and Blake, grew up on the farm and both decided to work along side their dad and grandfather on the farm. Greg's son, Garrett, who will be going into the ninth grade at Manila High School, enjoys working on the farm during the summers. He makes the fourth generation to take an active role in the Hart Family Farm.
Jimmy said his great-grandson Garrett is coming on strong. Garrett has loved being in the fields since he was a small boy and plans to join the family farm after high school and college.
Tragedy hit the family in June 2015 when Gary passed away unexpectedly. It has been a difficult year for the family coping with their loss. They had always worked together as a team depending on each other.
Greg said they recently employed a marketing consultant to advise them on marketing decisions. He said their dad made the majority of the marketing decisions for the farm.
Other members of the Farm Family include Greg's wife, Kim, and daughters, Haley Henderson, 20, and Kylie Henderson, 18; Blake's wife, Shea, and son, Foster, three months old.
Greg and Kim live in Manila. Kim is an education and training instructor at Arkansas Northeastern College. She is a Future Educators Association advisor and serves on the Arkansas Northeastern College Academic Advisory Committee.
Greg is a Farm Bureau member serving on the Farm Bureau board. He is also on the County Extension Council Ag Subcommittee.
They stay busy with their careers and supporting their children in their activities.
Garrett is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and was part of the group raising $5,000 for the Arkansas Children's Hospital. He also took part in collecting and donating 500 pounds of food and $3,000 for the local food pantry. He and his classmates raised $800 on Arkansas Give Day and were able to disperse the money to 10 different charities.
Kylie is a 2016 graduate of Manila High School and plans to attend Arkansas State University in the fall. She held leadership roles during her high school years serving as student council president, senior class secretary, a member of Future Business Leaders of America and Family Career and Community Leaders of America. She also enjoyed cheerleading and softball. She works part-time serving as a lifeguard at the Manila water park/pool.
Haley is a 2014 graduate of Manila High School and will be attending Arkansas State University this fall. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. She is a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association and Northeast Arkansas Horse Show Association. She competed in AQHA Youth World in 2014 placing in the top five in the Arkansas State Horse Show from 2011-2014. She also enjoys giving riding lessons.
Blake and Shea live in Marion. They welcomed their first baby, Foster, on Feb. 1. They are volunteers at Hope for the holidays, community wide program to help families in need during the holidays. They are members of the First United Methodist Church in Marion.
Blake is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and serves as chairman for the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet.
Shea is a 2003 graduate of the University of Arkansas. She is counselor at Avondale Elementary School in Marion. She is a member of the Avondale Elementary School Leadership Team and a member of Chi Omega Sorority.
The farm keeps them busy as they have 1,300 acres of cotton, 5,500 acres of soybeans, and 1,700 acres of rice, but they also make time for family.
Greg and Blake agree they feel honored to be chosen as Mississippi County Farm Family and give credit to their grandfather and dad for their support and leadership through the years.
For many years Jimmy, Gary, Greg and Blake worked the farm together and it has remained a family business through the good years and the more difficult ones.