Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Standing Oaks Enterprise - Family & Agriculture

Today we welcome Sam Wildman as he tells us about his family farm - Standing Oak Enterprises - and how his family works together and advocates for agriculture and swine production. 

Standing Oaks Enterprises is the name of our family farm. The name comes from an old oak grove that is located on one of our farms. My father always told me he named it that way because it represented a firm, simple & long-lasting entity. Our family & our farm only exist because of the grace of God, our commitment to the Lord and the resounding faith we have all been raised with. 

My name is Sam Wildman, I am 21 years old - studying agribusiness & economics with a minor in agriculture communications at The Ohio State University. I represent over 200 years of agricultural tradition on essentially the same farm as we started on. I am the second of four children (Kim, Mindy, Simon & I) and represent the eighth generation to be involved with our farm which now raises pigs, corn and soybeans. 

Our farm, located in South Charleston, OH, an hour west of Columbus and only an hour and 15 minutes north of Cincinnati puts us near the extreme edge of the corn belt. We are also only one hour north of where the glaciers pass stops and where the rolling hills of southern Ohio begin.

We raise 650 sows (mommy pigs) which produce roughly 18,000 pigs for market every year. The pig business is our livelihood and the grain we raise is specifically to offset some of our feed costs. On 700 acres we are able to raise enough grain to feed our herd for about half a year. 

My dad, Charles Wildman is the owner & primary caretaker of our farm. He oversees daily care of our pigs which includes nutrition, health, breeding, birthing & weaning baby pigs. We have a few employees (including myself and my older sister) who help with daily care whenever he needs us. We then have six finishing barns located in other parts of the state, owned by other farm families who raise our pigs from the time they leave the nursery (45 lbs.) until the time they are harvested (263 lbs.). 

Dad holds a seat on the Ohio Pork Producers board of directors, National Pork Board’s swine welfare committee, and is very involved in other advocacy programs with these two groups. Dad and I have become very involved in promoting agriculture, especially pork through social media outlets such as blogging, twitter & facebook. Transparency is something that we see is very beneficial for the relationship between agriculture and the consumers who buy our products.

We are in the process of becoming a partner in what is probably the most exciting thing to happen in the pork industry. We will be getting out of the sow and birthing business this winter and converting to a wean to finish farm where we will raise around 25,000 pigs a year for market in our nurseries and then in our finishers I spoke of earlier. The exciting part is that as we move towards more transparency in the industry we must do things to show others how we raise pigs on a commercial farm. This will be happening in Indiana at Fair Oaks Farms as well as on our farm. I encourage you to read more about it here.

My whole family has been raised with a strong Christian faith. My mom, Carol plays the piano every Sunday at church and is the praise band coordinator. My father is also involved at church as the finance elder and all of us kids are involved in different activities with the church.

The most important thing I have learned from my parents and my involvement in agriculture as I grow is to simply be yourself, remain true to your beliefs and stand firm for what you are passionate for. In my life, that is God & agriculture. 

If you enjoyed this feature and want to know more about us or have questions about anything please look us up and ask us. You can find more about us here - Sam's blog, Charles' blog, Carol's blog, Sam's twitter, Charles' twitter or on Facebook

Thanks Sam for the fantastic feature! Young people like Sam are the future of agriculture and we are thanksful to be able to share their stories. Be sure to check out the Wildman family blogs, twitter accounts, and Facebook page. 

If you or someone you know should be featured on Faces of Agriculture, please contact us - we need your story now!