Junior looks forward to growing family farm
by Kendell Combs
Abby Holstine always thought she would return to the family farm. Her fondest memories are full of farm moments. She remembers riding the tractor with her father around their property and her mother preparing early-morning breakfasts.
But most of all, she remembers the conversations her family would have at the dinner table about the farm. The family business, Produce Patch Farm Market, was more than just a business. It was a way of life.
“I grew passionate about the family business, because it was something I was good at and that came natural to me,” said Holstine, a junior agribusiness: agribusiness management major from Plainville, Indiana. “That’s why I want to go back to the farm because I know it can be something I will succeed in.”
Holstine said she wants to find ways to bring innovative agricultural practices to her family’s business and hopes that her education at Purdue will do that. One of her classes was aimed at students who plan to return to the family farm. Holstine created a six-year plan for the Produce Patch that included how she would implement her return to the farm.
She said the class helped her envision different product lines, including organic produce, which consumers are demanding in growing numbers.
“You just can’t keep doing the same thing that you’ve always done,” Holstine said. “The whole organic side of things is definitely a market I could see us entering.”
She said she knows it will take a lot of work to make the changes at the Produce Patch, but Holstine said the business plan focuses on the future and helps ensure the farm’s longevity.
After all, the farm’s future is tied to her family. Both of Holstine’s parents grew up on farms, and they started the Produce Patch so their children could have the same experiences while growing up. Holstine’s parents also wanted to introduce her to the same work ethic, problem-solving skills, and appreciation for the land they learned as kids.
“To be a part of the family, you have to work,” Holstine said. “I learned that by watching the example my parents set for me and my brother.”
Holstine said her parents’ dawn-to-dusk work mentality inspired her and is a part of who she is. Holstine has applied that work ethic here at Purdue. But she also describes how her Purdue experiences changed the way she views the world and the family farm.
“Stepping back and having a life away from the farm has allowed me to grow and learn something new by getting to hear someone else’s opinion,” Holstine said.
Those opinions gave Holstine a new perspective on the family farm. She learned to be open-minded to suggestions from trusted peers and mentors because they might provide a different take that could be beneficial in the long-run. It’s a perspective that her family wants Holstine to discover. But Holstine’s family also wants her to broaden her horizons even after college.
Holstine’s mother encouraged her to be open-minded about taking a job at another business for a couple of years after graduation. Such a job, Holstine said, will broaden her professional experiences, including understanding how businesses operate and ways to handle communication with others.
Even so, Holstine said the pull of the family farm remains strong. Holstine said she definitely plans to return to the farm but understands that it will be like starting fresh once she returns from her outside business experience.
“My time at Purdue has validated my feelings toward returning to the Produce Patch,” Holstine said. “I feel enthusiastic about the opportunities there are to expand and better the business that my parents started.”