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A family tradition: Jackson County family earns annual farming honor.

TO SAY THAT FARMING IS A way of life for Jack K. Hardin would be an understatement. A small cut would probably reveal that Hardin bleeds green.

A fourth-generation farmer, Hardin manages a 6,000-acre farm in Tupelo (Jackson County) with the help of his wife, Mary, his son Millard, his daughter-in-law, Susan, and seven full-time employees.

Hardin and his crew oversee 2,600 acres of soybeans, 1,800 acres of rice, 1,200 acres of wheat and 400 acres of corn.

In recognition of their efforts, Hardin and his kin were named the 1992 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, a program co-sponsored by Arkansas Power & Light Co. and the Arkansas Press Association.

The program, now in its 46th year, was created to honor the state's top farming families and their efforts in representing the Arkansas agricultural industry.

Eight district winners, chosen from among 75 county farm families, were honored, with the top award going to the Hardins.

The Hardins and their seven counterparts -- the Bernard Nabholz family of Vilonia, the Bobby Crow family of Centerville, the Barry Walls family of Harrisburg, L.D. and Rocky Friend of Harrison, the James Hastings family of Rosston, the John Gates family of Eudora and the DeWite DeShazo family of Rudy -- received plaques recognizing their achievements at a luncheon held Dec. 11 at the 4-H Educational Center in Little Rock.

A final decision was arrived at after examining the farming practices, the family life and home management, community service and conservation efforts of the 75 families, all of whom were visited by committees representing AP&L and the APA.

Jack Hardin, who says farming "is a Hardin family tradition," started his career in 1960 as a tenant farmer on 100 acres he rented from his uncle, Chester Hardin, in Tupelo.

Within four years, Jack and Mary Hardin, a graduate of Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Mo., with a double major in math and chemistry, were married and managing a farm that had grown to 300 acres.

Crops and Computers

By 1966, the Hardins had purchased their first farm land, two years after Mary Hardin instituted a custom-designed bookkeeping program still in use today. Now computerized, the management system is used to plan crops and harvest potential as well as order supplies and schedule crop-dusting and harvest transportation.

The Hardins' first son, Jack Jr., was born in 1966, followed by his brother, Millard, in 1969. Both attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and became part of the farming operation when they turned 18.

Tragedy struck the Hardins in 1988.

A plane crash took the life of Jack Jr. on his 19th birthday. Millard Hardin suffered near-fatal injuries in the crash and endured seven operations over the course of a 7-week stay in the hospital, but was still able to run a combine that fall to aid in the farm's harvest.

Millard Hardin now oversees the family's rice operation as well as aiding in the overall managing of the farm.

"I am proud of the fact that my son Millard is carrying on the Hardin family tradition of farming," says Jack Hardin, a Tupelo alderman for 24 years and former board member of the Arkansas Soybean Association. "My son Jack Jr. was also very proud of the farm. He, along with Millard, began doing farm chores at a very young age."
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Title Annotation:Jack K. Hardin and kin named 1992 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jan 25, 1993
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