Brecklings named Farm Family of the Year
Farm Bureau of Arkansas has selected Jim and Renee Breckling as the Saline County Farm Family of the Year for 2019.
“It was a surprise,” Renee said of the selection.
Jim added that the recognition is an honor.
The Brecklings have 70 acres of sod, 120 acres of pasture where they raise Angus and black baldie cross cows, and 90 acres of hay fields.
Jim’s father, Julius, started the farm in the 1960s when he saw a growing demand in Hot Springs and Little Rock for sod. He decided to set up his operation in Benton, along the Saline River.
The family got into the cattle business in 1995 and got out of it in 2005. The Brecklings children wanted cows so they started raising cattle again in 2014.
The Brecklings’ children are Thomas, 32, Jeremy, 26, Logan,
23, and Kaylee, 20. They have two grandsons, Cillian Bradley, 4, and Aleric, 1, and also a “granddog,” Bruce.
Jim and Renee met through friends and have been married 32 years.
Logan earned a degree in plant science and agriculture business from Arkansas State University and Kaylee is studying agriculture business at Southern Arkansas University.
When Logan graduated, he came back and joined the family business. He is working to improve and grow the farm.
Logan serves on the board of the Farm Service Agency as well. He also started Breckling Auctions, which Kaylee works with him when she is not helping out at
Kaylee said it means a lot to her to be part of her family’s farm. She didn’t think about getting into farming until her senior year when her family began raising cows again.
Thomas is a compliance and regulatory adherence manager at Bank of America. He and his wife, Emily, are the parents of Cillian and Aleric.
Jeremy is a project manager at Baldwin and Shell. His wife is Maghen.
While Thomas and Jeremy and their families do not work on the farm, they
do pitch in when needed.
Jim said he worked on the farm with his father who taught him.
“He’d be proud that his grandkids are taking over,” he said.
In the family’s information packet, the Brecklings say one of the challenges of a sod farm is never knowing how much is needed year to year due to their consumers being primarily homeowners.
Renee said another challenge has been the flooding this spring, especially close to the Saline River. They have to work to keep weeds and contaminates out of the grass to ensure a quality product.
She feels that their location
close to the river also brings the advantage of soil deposits providing high quality soil.
Kaylee said it takes a lot of hard work to produce quality sod. It takes three years to regrow areas that have been harvested.
They take up the grass in rolls of 33 yards and pallets of 50 yards. They sell it at $2 a yard.
Most of the sod area grows Zoysia sod, but the family has added Tiftuf Bermuda, a newly developed sod from the University of Georgia. The family said it is meant to be drought resistant and requires 38 percent less water while remaining green longer.
Logan has spent time researching the new variety before adding it in August. He feels some of it may actually be ready soon.
The family has set for itself the goal of providing the best turf variety going forward and believes they have found it in Tiftuf.
It has not been available for sale yet, but they will be the only distributors in Arkansas when it is ready.
The Brecklings get most of their customers by word of mouth. Many find them through www.simplesodar. com.
Most customers come to the farm to pick up their sod, but the family is beginning to offer delivery.
Renee said it is good to see the hard work they put in come to fruition when they are able to put out a product.
They sell product year round as long as it’s not too wet or frozen and can be cut.
Renee said people know them as “the sod family.”
In the future, they would like to offer a corn maze and pumpkin patch on one of their other farms.
Ron Matlock, county extension agency staff chair, said Farm Family for the county is selected by a committee who nominates different families and votes for a winner.
He said the Brecklings were chosen because they have been in business for a longtime.
“They are hardworking, good people who are involved in the community,” Matlock said.
He added that the committee liked the variety of sod, hay and cows they have in their operation.
The Brecklings’ farm was judged on Thursday and will learn soon if they have been selected for District Farm Family of the Year. The seven or eight district families are then judge again for state Farm Family of the year, according to Matlock.
The Breckling Family has been named the 2019 Farm Bureau of Arkansas Saline County Farm Family of the Year.
In addition to the sod the family already produces, they have added a new drought-resistant variety, Tiftuf Bermuda, developed by the University of Georgia.