Bruce and Fran Conard have been farming full-time on Conard Hill Farm in Martinsburg, Ohio for the past 20 years. Bruce’s father bought the land about 50 years ago and the family has been harvesting corn, wheat, oats, alfalfa, soybeans, and cattle ever since. These days Bruce and Fran raise about 80 cattle with calves and 200 cattle at a time, feeding them quality corn, hay and oats year around. The Conards’ cattle always have plenty of room to roam around too, even in the harsh Ohio winters. Bruce Conard’s favorite saying seems to be, “If you treat the animals well, they will treat you well.”
A little over a year ago Knox County Extension Agent Jeff McClutchen invited the Conards and several other farmers to a meeting at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college 13 miles away from their farm. The Extension office invited the farmers over for an informal meeting about a new farm to cafeteria project at Kenyon College—just one of the many efforts Kenyon is making under their local food initiative Food for Thought.
“If you treat the animals well, they will treat you well.”
The Conards were excited at the prospect to sell meats in the local market. They learned from a local supermarket and distributor for the Food for Thought program, Lanning’s Food, about what kind of meat the school would be interested in and the Conards began raising more Holstein cattle to meet the needs of the local college. Now, the Conards’ beef can be found in such dishes as beef vegetable soup and chile con carne in Kenyon’s dining halls. Kenyon students have also been invited out to the farm to see where their beef comes from.
Bruce applauds the program for helping college students to understand the reality of where their food comes from and for providing Conard Hill Farm with a local market in a time when small and medium sized family farms are facing increasing costs and unstable prices. Programs like Food for Thought provide stability for family farmers in these times by providing a guaranteed local market. Bruce and Fran are excited about Kenyon’s Food for Thought program.