By Bill Spiegel Kansas Wheat
Lance Russell knew from age 3 that farming was all he wanted to do. Everything about farming was fascinating: all the machinery, the wonder of growing crops and especially, wheat harvest.
"Wheat harvest was the happiest time of the year. I loved it. I was a city boy when I moved to the farm at a young age, but I developed a passion for agriculture," he says. Today, Lance and his wife, Cathy and their children, Lyle and Brooke, have grown Legacy Farms from its foundation in 2000 of 100 rented acres, to farms in Ellis, Rush and Ness counties.
The passion has led to a host of opportunities to engage others. Lance and Cathy have been active in Kansas Farm Bureau, and Lance graduated from the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Class 10. Legacy Family Farms recently joined an organzation called Family Farms Group, where the Russells work with other producers to improve their business. And Lance has joined the Hays Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to have more representation from the agriculture sector. He strives to reach out to the non-farming public, and "tell agriculture's story."
"We in agriculture are great at talking to others in agriculture industry, but we often wonder what consumers don't understand all the things farmers and ranchers do," he explains. That's one reason Russell is among a group of farmers and ranchers who take part in the Ellis County Farm Bureau's Kid's Ag Day on the Farm.
"It is important for us to talk to parents, teachers and students, to get the word out and start a conversation about agriculture," Russell says.
Lance feels fortunate to be involved in production agriculture. For several years after college, he worked off the farm, hoping to get a chance to start his own operation. He took each work experience as a learning experience for the time when he would return to the farm. That happened in 2000, when Legacy Farms was established.
Lance and Cathy recently completed their 2013 wheat harvest, which remains as thrilling to Lance now as it did 40 years ago, albeit for different reasons.
"When I was a kid, it was a blast to ride the combine, and I enjoyed the food that Mom brought to the field," he says. "Now that I'm the owner, it's more stressful."
From left: Cathy, Lyle, Brooke and Lance Russell from Ellis County