SPRINGTOWN --The Hays family claimed the honor of Benton County Farm Family of the Year on Tuesday morning.
The family -- Cody and Carrie Hays and their children, Garrett, Ty and Emily -- owns a row crop and cattle farm in Springtown, a town four miles east of Gentry.
At A Glance
The Cody and Carrie Hays family of Springtown are this year’s Benton County Farm Family of the Year and have a chance to be named Arkansas Farm Family of the Year on Dec. 11 in Little Rock. The state is divided in seven divisions and each divisional winner will compete for the state title. The Northwest division includes Washington, Benton, Madison, Carroll, Sebastian, Crawford, Boone, Newton, Johnson and Franklin counties.
Source: Staff Report
Family, friends and community members visited the farm as the Benton County Farm Bureau presented the award to the Hayses.
"It's an honor to win it," Cody Hays said after the presentation.
Cody Hays grew up on a farm, owned a few cows in Avoca before buying land in Springtown in 2005.
"This is where we really started farming for a living," he said.
The Hayses started with 51 acres. Now, they operate 793 acres; they lease 704 acres and own 89.
The family grows soybeans, wheat, corn and green beans, and raise beef cattle, horses and show pigs.
Maintaining the farm is a family affair.
Carrie Hays does the books and assist in the field some days. Their children also help with farm projects when school isn't in session.
The children help plant pumpkins for harvest in the fall and prepare show pigs for the county and state fair along with their father.
"We take care of our animals and we plant pumpkins," said Ty, 9.
The Hayses bought the Ozark Corn Maze in Cave Springs last year. Cody Hays said that project especially brings the family together.
"There's a lot of stuff the kids can do there," he said.
Garrett, 13, said they finished planting pumpkins 3-4 weeks ago.
"That way they'd be done by corn maze time," Garrett said.
Garrett operates a tractor and Ty said he helps with the petting zoo and concessions at the corn maze. Emily, 11, remained quiet most of the morning, but indicated excitement at her family winning the award.
Cody Hays said Emily keeps show pigs and goats and tells corn maze visitors about the animals in the petting zoo.
"We try to keep 'em busy," he said of his children.
Bob Clinard, Benton County judge, commended the Hays children's involvement.
"I grew up on a farm," Clinard said. "I understand how hard it is -- how much work it takes to be successful at it -- it's 24/7."
Clinard also spoke to the family's dedication to the business.
"We take great pride in recognizing our members of the community for their achievements in agriculture," he said.
Benton County had 2,157 farms in 2012, according to the Census of Agriculture.
Jim Singleton, chairman of the selection committee, led the award presentation. The committee is made up of about 15 agriculture-related businessmen and selects a family based upon their farm and family practices and community involvement.
There is no application process. The members of the selection committee meet and discuss possible families.
"We're very familiar with the farmers in the county and how they conduct business and what they're involved in," Singleton said.
The family is also active in the community: at the Decatur Assembly of God church, the Farm Bureau, Gentry Youth Organization, Oak Grove Riding Club and Gentry Primary School.
Cody Hays is on the Farm Bureau Board and Carrie Hays is on the Farm Bureau Women's Committee. Cody Hays is also the football coach and coordinator for the Gentry Youth Organization and is on the Oak Grove Riding Club Board. Carrie Hays is the teacher appreciation chairwoman for the Gentry Primary School Parent Teacher Organization and is the secretary for the Oak Grove Riding Club.
The Hays children hunt deer in the fall. Emily plays basketball for the Gentry Youth Organization and for Northwest Arkansas County Select travel team. Ty plays football, baseball and basketball for the Gentry Youth Organization. Garrett plays football and baseball for Gentry.NW News on 07/16/2014