The Gittlein family changed their operation, but still have a love for farming
Sometimes agriculture is in a producer’s blood and for Garrett Gittlein, that’s exactly how it started.
Having grown up in the agriculture industry, Garrett was always interested in farming. As a young boy, Garrett recalls memories with his father and grandfather situated on the farm.
“Starting off farming at the age of 8, my father (Jim) and grandfather (Red Elder) would take me to the farm and I’d spend the day behind a John Deere steering wheel,” Garrett recalled.
In 2008, Garrett married his wife, Amanda, and they relocated to the small town of Gravette, Ark., from Leoti, Kan.
With a passion for the industry, there was no question what they would do. Garrett and Amanda decided a life of farming was exactly what they needed and Northwest Arkansas quickly became the home of Gittlein Farms.
Initially, Gittlein Farms was a cattle operation. At their peak in the cattle industry, they were running roughly 175 head of registered black Angus cattle. They sold 20 to 25 registered black Angus bulls per year through private treaty.
In the summer of 2017, the Gittlein’s started to feel pulled in a different direction. They made the tough decision to sell out of the cattle business and begin a new farming operation. Today the Gittlein family raises wheat, corn and alfalfa on 500 owned and leases acers.
“I don’t have a cow on the place,” Garrett said. “The good Lord was looking over me because I sold cattle last fall when things were still somewhat good and went into the silage business, which was just wild this year. I guess I got two lucky things in a row there.”
Transitioning from cattle to crops was not a big leap for Garrett. Growing up in western Kansas, he spent his formative years working along side his dad.
Garrett couldn’t get the farming passion out of his blood, and saw opportunity.
“There’s a challenge to it that is just compelling to me,” Garrett. “The thrill with cattle was looking non-compelling in the future.”
It was that moment that passion-fueled decision making and Gittlein Harvesting was born. Gittlein Harvesting was created to provide custom harvesting options for corps such as corn, sorghum, triticale, wheat and alfalfa haylage.
Garrett and Amanda saw an opportunity that extended beyond Northwest Arkansas and decided that it was time to expand regionally to meet the harvesting needs in other states, including Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.
For the most recent harvest season, Garrett left his Arkansas farm on July 1 and worked on 20 different farms. He returned on Aug. 22.
“We got about five days off for the rain, and that was about it,” he said. “We ventured into this with an open mind, not knowing when or where we may have to travel. We decided to get into the farming side of the business to help meet a need and to educate, so our geographical area includes everyone, anywhere, anytime that they need our help.”
Garrett’s father is one of the reasons he still attempts to thrive in the agriculture industry.
“My father was one of the best farmers to ever put foot on soil,” said Garrett. “There are not enough words to describe what a great farmer and steward of the land he has been.”
Garrett hopes his children have the same passion for agriculture as their ancestors. The Gittlein children are certainly no strangers to the farm. Garrett and Amanda’s sons, Mason, 7, and Colson, 4, are actively involved in Gittlein Harvesting too. Whether it’s the support of their parents or helping with the farm, they are already beginning to show their agriculture passion. Their little sister, 1-year-old Madison, is still a little too young to help out on the farm.
In 2017, the Gittleins were awarded Farm Family of the Year for Benton County, Ark., and also for the Northwest Arkansas District.
Sometimes farming comes natural and sometimes it can be acquired but for the Gittleins, it’s in their blood.