A Family Affair at the Dettelbach’s

A Family Affair at the Dettelbach’s

Most of our farmers will talk to you about the importance of family, but one family stands out above the rest: the Dettelbach Family. Their farm is powered by three generations, working in unison to create not only a sustainable farming system, but a closer family unit.

Steve and Ashley Dettelbach’s farm is in Wynne, Arkansas. Not only do they grow produce for New South cooperative, but they also raise animals for the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative. Their farm is a lively mix of row gardens and animal pens. The soft sounds of chicks are caught in the fierce Delta winds and blown across to where the sheep are grazing. The pigs run out to greet Ashley, from where they are pastured in an area that used to grow carrots and kale. They happily root up the tubers, enjoying a snack and turning over the soil. The new row house is shining in the background, protecting the growing plants inside.
When I asked Steve recently what draws him to a life of farming, his answer was simple and powerful.
“Family, community, being engaged with nature, preserving the soil, feeding our neighbors healthy food, and raising livestock in a healthy, clean, fresh environment to let them act how God intended.
“It has made our family closer than ever. My wife and I spend everyday together, working. Through this we learn so much more about each other even after ten years of marriage. Our teenage children have started helping more or less part time and they are learning about work ethic and everyday life while interacting with us in a work atmosphere.
“My dad moved in a few years ago after retirement to help on the farm and hang with his grandkids. None of his moving was from need, only want in the sense of family. Also my older brother has moved to Wynne, with us owning the farm together (myself, Ashley, and Jeff). My mother was born and raised here so my wife and I followed her, and once the farm was going everyone followed.”
With such a dynamic farm, things are also always changing.
 
“This year our first hoop house is up and full of peppers and tomatoes. We converted an Allis Chambers G to electric for cultivating. We brought on a 30 acre hog farm and 188 acre cattle farm.”
Community support for our Arkansas cooperatives makes it possible for farmers like Steve and Ashley to not only farm and work in ways that benefit their land and family, but the rest of us can benefit from the wonderful things produced by their hard work.