afe conservation a real breeze for Schuch family

afe conservation a real breeze for Schuch family

Image Credit: Submitted

Each year conservation districts around the state recognize one farm in their county for ongoing conservation efforts. At the Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District held at Carlisle Inn at Walnut Creek on Tuesday, Nov. 16, the staff at Holmes SWCD was honored to bestow the 2021 Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District Conservation Farm Award to a family that has been very near and dear to them.

Jason and Erika Schuch, the owners of Sweet Breeze Farms & Excavating, were honored as the recipients of the Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District Conservation Farm Award for 2021.

Sweet Breeze Farms was established in 1981 by Skeeter and Pat Martin.

Since then the Schuches have taken over operations, and they and their daughters Becca and Andi have been a part of the agricultural fabric of Holmes County for years. Jason Schuch was a longtime member of the Holmes SWCD board for years while Erika was recently honored by the Holmes County Fair Board as its 4-H Alumni Award winner. The girls have been involved with the farm from a young age and were both invested in West Holmes FFA and Holmes County 4-H.

However, on this occasion the family was honored for their ongoing effort to maintain a farm and business that has delved deeply into conservation efforts.

Holmes SWCD program administrator Michelle Wood presented the award and talked about the efforts the family continues to make in promoting healthy conservation practices.

“The Sweet Breeze family has been a part of our conservation crew for a long time,” Wood said, noting Skeeter passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. “Pat worked seasonally in the farm service agency office. It was always fun when Skeeter would come into the office to share a story or two, and we miss him but know that he is proud of the family business that continues to prosper.”

She went on to say Pat’s involvement with the fair at Harvest Ridge continues to strengthen the community and shape the next generation of leaders while Jason has played a large role in the ongoing success of the SWCD.

“Jason has devoted countless hours as a board member and as the keystone to our aerial cover crop program,” Wood said. “He is the first guy we call when we have an idea, to see how it might fly in the real world. He always gives us a very insightful perspective.”

Wood said Erika runs the operation behind the scenes as the CFO, donating many hours to working with the SWCD on their books. She said the next generation of the family is just as solid as their parents when it comes to conservation and leadership and noted the company is in good hands.

While the Schuch family was unable to attend, they did pass along the family and company motto, which is “to produce the best quality of crops in the most efficient manner possible while respecting the land, our landowners and community.”

Sweet Breeze Farms has gone from a farrow to finish swine operation to a green farm. In 2001 Sweet Breeze Farms purchased its first excavating equipment. In 2010 the company became known as Sweet Breeze Farms & Excavating. Since 2020 the farm has been owned and operated by Jason and Erika Schuch. The farm consists of approximately 1,800 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, with most of that land being cash rented.

Wood said the family uses conservation practices like no till and vertical till, utilizes the practice of cover crops over the winter to retain nutrients and soil properties, develops cleaner waterways and more.

“They utilize the four R fertilizer concept, that being the right source, the right rate, the right time at the right place,” Wood said of the Schuch farm.

She went on to note the excavating part of the company has provided work on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for area farmers, most recently building a heavy-use pad for livestock.

Wood said it is because of caring farming members like the Schuch family that Holmes County continues to make great strides in conservation practices.