From the National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Program:The oldest farmer recognition program in the United States has announced the four National Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015 at the 59th annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress. Those receiving the honor for 2015 are Chad and Ravelle Garone of California, Randal and Kristi Melvin of North Dakota, Ryan and Misty Bivens of Kentucky, and Christopher and Ginger Martin of Georgia.
Christopher and Ginger Martin of Hawkinsville, Georgia, were selected national winners at the 59th annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 12-15 in Cherry Hill, N.J. Four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation.
With a history of family farming that dates back to 1820 as well as college degrees in ag business and business administration, Christopher Martin had a strong foundation on which to build a successful agri-consulting enterprise. Through his thriving business, he was serving 13,000 acres across nine counties when he knew it was time to switch gears. “It is impossible to explain why I wanted to farm so badly,” says Christopher. “I simply always knew I would.” Fueled by that determination, Christopher and his wife, Ginger, began a new career in production agriculture 12 years ago. They grow cotton, corn, wheat, peanuts, and rye on 3,400 acres near Hawkinsville, Georgia. Along with raising their two children, Grantson, 19, and Wellsley, 17, Christopher and Ginger have engaged in many community and agricultural organizations.
The Martin farm has hosted extensive research, development, and plot testing for state agencies and private companies. The studies include a “rolling rye” pilot program through the NRCS with an objective to provide sunlight-blocking ground cover to diminish the germination of pigweed during primary crop planting. Ensuring that his farm is environmentally and economically sound is a primary goal for Christopher. His conscientious farming methods earned him the title of district Soil Conservationist of the Year in 2004, and he is one of 20 farmers nationwide to participate in a five-year soil quality study.
The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA), and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the U.S. Jaycees.
National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2016 to represent the NOYF program.