Preserving a way of life
Rich Smith preserves land that will be farmed by his sons and grandsons
Rich Smith’s zest for farming is contagious.
In an era when the children of some farmers do not see a future in working the land, Smith, a lifelong Huron County resident, has inspired sons Jeremy, 40, and Brian, 36, to partner with him on their grain farm operation. Jeremy’s son Kyle, 10, and Brian’s son Brandon, 9, both appear headed on the same path.
“They both know their way around the farm, that’s for sure,” Rich Smith says with a laugh.
Smith has made sure his farmland will never be developed. Smith, a former president of the Huron County Farm Bureau, has donated a conservation easement to Western Reserve Land Conservancy that permanently preserves 332 acres of prime agricultural land along New State Road in Bronson Township. Smith says that since the easement permanently restricts use of the land, he did not make the decision in haste.
“It took me quite a while to decide – forever is a long time,” he says. “But we’ve been farming for generations, and I think there will always be someone here who wants to farm.”
Smith, who grew up in a farming family in nearby Greenfield Township, purchased the first tract of land for the central Huron County farm in 1980 and added acreage over the years. The property produces corn, soybeans and wheat; it also contains three woodlots and nearly a half-mile of tributaries to the Huron River.
“Rich Smith is one of those individuals that everyone knows and respects, a testament to his leadership in the agricultural community in Huron County,” says Andy McDowell, vice president of western field operations for the Land Conservancy. “Working together with his two sons to preserve their valuable farmland reflects his desire to instill this leadership role for generations to come.”
Smith and his wife, Doris, discussed the conservation easement decision with their family before moving ahead. Smith says that at the end of the day, “I wanted my sons and grandsons to always be able to farm.”
Smith, 63, still enjoys farming, although he admits he would like to dial things down a bit.
“I was hoping to slow down,” he says, “but I haven’t yet figured out how.”