Cancer is a word that I hear far too often with farm families. The Porteus family of Eastern Ohio is turning their focus on how they can bring people together through their loss. Debbie Porteus, a wife, mother and FarmHer lost her battle with cancer 10 years ago. Today her family is creating community and future leaders in her memory.
Six Generations of Leadership in Ohio
Brent Porteus raises corn, soybeans, cattle and pigs, as a fourth generation farmer in Eastern Ohio. Their farm is a diversified, family operation. He is the fourth generation with his daughters and granddaughters being the next generations. Being sustainable and looking to the future is the motivation for everything they do. Their event, Cultivating A Cure, is part of their look at the future. Debbie’s memory lives on through the event, raising money and bringing together community.
Their Heart is at the Farm
Both of Brent’s daughters, Beth and Amy grew up working and loving the farm. Amy says her heart has never really left the farm though she returned full time about 6 years ago. She says that they work hard but never really work a day in their life. They are passionate about farming. Amy’s days are filled with checking cattle and pigs and keeping everything moving on the farm.
Getting Involved in the Family Business
Beth came home to the farm briefly after college, but realized off farm income was going to be necessary. She and her husband work night and weekends on the farm in the nights with their two little girls. Despite working off the farm, her heart is also always at home.
Brent says he always hoped his daughters would come back and be involved in the business. He never looked at them differently because they were girls. From the time they were born, his late wife, Debbie, would take them grain cart in car seats. It is still that way today with his granddaughters.
Leadership and Collaboration in Agriculture
Brent focuses his leadership on looking out for the best interests of his fellow farmers. Leadership is always about tough decision and finding ways to collaborate with others. Brent holds many leadership roles. He learned the importance of that from his father. His goal is to bring people together collectively to address the issues that we all face. I am aligned in thinking that together we can grow. Growth brings about change.
Building a Sustainable Future
The family is ultimately focused on building a future for the next generation. They are focused on leaving the land better than they found it. Beth and Amy are also leaders and are heavily involved in 4H. They were involved as kids and believe strongly in what that brings to their community. Amy and Beth both say that 4H taught them responsibility. It also brought a lot of hard work. I was a 4H kid myself and agree wholeheartedly.
Cultivating A Cure
The Porteus family is working to bring people together from their loss. Brent’s wife of 35 years, Debbie, fought bravely against breast cancer. She passed away ten years ago and the family began a fundraiser in her honor. Our friends at Nationwide Insurance are partnering, along with the Ohio Farm Bureau, to help the family bring together hundreds of people for Cultivating A Cure. According to the Porteus’s, the best thing about Cultivating a Cure is bringing together community. They raise nearly $100,000 each year for cancer research as well. We are strongest when we work together. Our greatest opportunity is to work together.
Get Involved, Make Change
I am a firm believer that when we come together and connect and learn, we all grow. Events like Cultivating a Cure bring together community and fuel future leaders. I would encourage you to get out and get involved in your community. Attend an event. Give some time to a group you feel passionate about. This is where the growth happens for you and for your neighbors.
We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter. Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.
These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.
Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats.