Breck­lings named Farm Fam­ily of the Year

The Saline Courier Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By El­isha Morrison

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

the farm.

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.

EL­ISHA MORRISON/THE Sa­line Courier

The Breck­ling Fam­ily has been named the 2019 Farm Bureau of Arkansas Sa­line County Farm Fam­ily of the Year.

EL­ISHA MORRISON/THE Sa­line Courier

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.

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