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Successful Farming - - CONTENTS - LEARN MORE Mitch Lazenby 334/703-2126 [email protected]­by­farms.com lazen­by­farms.com

de­vel­oped at the Lazen­bys’ farm.

Cre­ative think­ing has been the driver be­hind the cre­ation of each of their en­ter­prises, all of which serve to spread risk. Es­pe­cially on the crop­ping side of their op­er­a­tion, the Lazen­bys have imag­ined ways to re­duce risk fur­ther.

To safe­guard against drought steal­ing their crops, they de­vel­oped a pond-based ir­ri­gation sys­tem. “We’ve built wa­ter-stor­age reser­voirs on the farm,” says Lazenby. “We pull the wa­ter out of creeks and streams that flow into the Gulf of Mex­ico.”

Fo­cus­ing on build­ing health in their soils fur­ther re­duces risk in crop pro­duc­tion. Crops grown in healthy soils tend to be more re­silient and thus bet­ter able to with­stand ei­ther wet or dry con­di­tions. “We try to give soil or­gan­isms a di­verse diet of liv­ing roots,” says Lazenby. “We plant legumes and cover crops. We also use no-till and strip-till to min­i­mize soil dis­tur­bance.”

Their con­cen­tra­tion on build­ing soil qual­ity adds an­other chap­ter in their farm story that they’re able to share with visi­tors to the farm. “We’re try­ing to teach peo­ple about soil health,” he says.

While there’s no ques-

tion the mul­ti­ple farm en­ter­prises in­crease man­age­ment and la­bor, the Lazen­bys man­age the hefty work load them­selves, along with the help of one full-time em­ployee, farm man­ager An­drew Sparks. They also have a part-time helper. Dawn man­ages the host­ing of the wed­dings and drives a school bus in ad­di­tion to car­ing for their three chil­dren, ages 10, 9, and 8.

“We work some crazy hours, but I re­ally don’t think about how busy we are,” says Lazenby. “Like a lot of other farm­ers, we’ve al­ways had a can-do at­ti­tude. It’s our faith in God’s care and my wife’s sac­ri­fices that re­ally make the diver­si­fi­ca­tion of our farm suc­cess­ful.”

In his view, find­ing ways to diver­sify a farm makes a nat­u­ral fit for most farm­ers. “Farm­ers are al­ways look­ing to try some­thing new,” he says. “Farm­ers are en­trepreneurial at heart. We’re the most self-mo­ti­vated in­di­vid­u­als on the planet.”

IN­SIGHTS FROM AN IN­SIDER

Af­ter nearly three decades of build­ing in­creas­ing di­ver­sity into a farm­ing op­er­a­tion to re­duce pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing risks, Lazenby has learned a thing or two about the process. He of­fers these sug­ges­tions to oth­ers look­ing to diver­sify.

• Fo­cus on en­ter­prises that make a nat­u­ral fit. “Do a per­son­al­ity as­sess­ment and find en­ter­prises that are a nat­u­ral fit for your per­son­al­ity,” he says.

• Start small. Stick to just one or two new en­ter­prises or man­age­ment changes to be­gin with.

• Com­mit to a time line. “Though things al­ways hap­pen that you can’t fore­see, set a time line and work ex­tra hard to meet it,” he says. “It’s im­por­tant to see some­thing through to the end be­fore you de­cide whether or not to con­tinue with

an en­ter­prise.”

• Over­come fear. “Many peo­ple are fear­ful of change,” he says. “Re­mem­ber that di­ver­sity is all about man­ag­ing risk.”

• Push the bound­aries. Find­ing the right path for a new en­ter­prise be­gins with hav­ing the courage to step out­side a com­fort zone. Imag­in­ing and work­ing to­ward new goals may lead to an out­come that’s ei­ther right or wrong for you. “The only way to find that out is to push the bound­aries,” says Lazenby.

This is the play­set that Mitch Lazenby built from an old cot­ton picker.

The Lazenby fam­ily in­cludes (clock­wise from top left) Dawn; Mitch; Jamie Claire, 10; Jonah, 8; and Jamison, 9.

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