Larry Huffmeyer has worked with farmers as a chemical salesman for over 40 years. He also operates his own no-till farming operation in Ripley County, Ind. He took time to work with David Lee’s daughter and put together a Master Farmer nomination for David because he felt he was worthy of the honor.
“In my 40-plus year career of working with Indiana growers, Mr. Lee has always been an early adapter, as well as a leader in farming practices,” Huffmeyer says. “As an early adapter, David was one of the first to utilize no-till and conservation practices. As a leader, he has always brought the community along with him by sharing ideas and setting the example of what good farming practices can mean as a legacy to future farmers.”
Huffmeyer appreciates a fellow farmer who takes care of his natural resources. “David is a student of the land and intuitively understands the concepts of slope and drainage, and both their interaction and impacts,” Huffmeyer says. “Using a combination of cover cropping, manure applications and commercial fertilizer, David is committed to building soil health along with yields while minimizing surface runoff. “
Farmer David Hoar is on the Washington County Council and is president of the Washington County Plan Commission. Hoar’s observations go back to the 1970s, when David was one of few farmers in the county farming 1,000 acres or more. It was an early time for adoption of no-till, Hoar says.
“David farmed with a very limited resource of labor and machinery, which pushed him in adopting no-till,” Hoar says. “It was a familiar sight then to see David with an eight-row no-till planter, pulled by an open-station tractor with a loader on front, planting in the wee hours of the morning. The loader was to move fallen trees that may have come down around the edges of the field. He didn’t have time with his one part-time employee to make multiple trips for tasks like that.
“The one time of the week you would not see him working in the fields was Sunday. No matter how good the weather or conditions were, Sunday was the Lord’s day and not his.”
Greg McCurdy and John Calhoun are co-sponsors of the science club at Salem High School. They respect David and his family because through their generosity, the science club has acquired money to carry out many worthwhile projects. Lee has farmed land owned by the school for years, and donates soybeans sold off the land back to the school for use by the FFA chapter and science club.
“We thank the Lees for their generosity in touching the lives of so many of our students and making our community a richer place for families to raise and educate their children,” the pair writes. “They exemplify what it means to be a Master Farmer, and our students witness this example every time the students visit our north 60 acres on an educational field trip.”
Perhaps Huffmeyer summed up the thoughts of several writers best with these words: “David Lee’s dedication to land stewardship as well as his generosity to the community while building a sustainable, successful farming operation certainly warrant his nomination as Master Farmer.”