01 Dec GENERATIONS FROM THE PAST TO THE FUTURE
I am Rita Seward and married to Harry K. (Bud) Seward, residing in the Tanner Williams community just southeast of Lucedale, MS. Our Family farm includes row cropping, cattle, trucking and agritainment.
Our Family farm was started by Bud’s Grandparents, M. A. and Florence Maybelle Rea Seward which moved to the Tanner Williams community in 1924, with their 3 daughters and son. He grew corn, cotton, and produce on leased land. In 1934, his son Harry married Aude Hinton Seward and in 1938 they purchased a farm of their own which consisted of 366 acres. They started row crop farming and later added a Dairy operation. It was sold and replaced with beef cattle. They had two sons & two daughters. Harry K. (Bud) and William D. (Bill) joined their father’s operation forming Harry Seward & Sons which remained until the late 60’s when Bill left the operation. Harry & Bud continued farming with their main crops being corn and soybeans along with beef cattle. In 1968, Bud and I Married. In 1969, we purchased 334 acres that joined his dad helping us to expand our operation. In 1977, Harry retired and leased his land to us. At that time the farm became known as Seward Farms.
In the 70’s, we started our own family, a son Steve and a daughter Susie, which today both are still a part of the operation.
Farming seemed to do well until the late 70’s. In September 1979, Hurricane Fredrick hit completely destroying the crops before harvest time. We were barley getting by from the disaster, when in 1982 the economy hit rock bottom. Trying to overcome the hard times we became more diversified by continuing to farm, raise beef cattle and starting our own transportation business.
In 1984 and over the next five years with our love and desire to continue our farming and trucking business, our son, Steve began to be a vital part of the operation. In 1994, Harry was very excited to see Bud & Steve plant a cotton crop after more than 50 years since he had planted cotton. The year ended up being bittersweet when Harry passed away before the cotton was harvested.
The following year, 1995, Bud and Steve went into business together forming Seward Farms Partnership. At that time, we separated the trucking company from the farm forming Seward Farms Inc. and over the next 5 years it doubled in size therefore doubling the office work. The farm seem to be just recovering after weathering two more storms, but with the land and crop records becoming more intense and added requirements by USDA for farmers the paperwork had grown there also.
In 2000, our daughter Susie Seward Kelley came back to work in the office with day to day duties and bookkeeping. Then in 2002, our daughter-in-law, Susan (who, herself was raised on a farm) joined us in the office. Later that year Steve purchased 120 acres which also joined our existing farm.
In 2002, after lots of research by Bud, we added to the corporation, an agritainment business. We opened Seward Farms Maze in September of that year putting a bit of agriculture back into the communities and schools, educating people by reminding them where their food and clothes come from. After weathering several tropical storms through the years, Hurricane Katrina (a category 5 storm with 175 mile an hour winds) hit on August 28, 2005. It was a very devastating storm that destroyed everything in its path. We actually started all over (reconstructing buildings, equipment sheds, & 11 miles of fence). As time passed and our farm became 100% operative, once again we then in 2007 rebuilt and opened our agritainment and resumed our educational process with our communities and schools. Our cattle and farming operation has grown as the years have passed. We have sold our brood cattle and only have stocker feeder cattle. For the most part, we double crop our acreage by planting rye grass and oats in fall for grazing and in the spring we plant cotton and peanuts.
Today, the farm consist of 1058 owned acres and 3500 leased acres for our day to day operations.
Our diversification and years of farming experience have enabled us to make good farming decisions and continue in today’s market for agriculture. The efficiency of the farm has enabled us to run with minimal problems in the past years—having hands on experience during our years of farming has given us the capability, knowledge, and skill to run the farming operation. We also strive to keep up with the fast pace of changing technology in farming, and we believe this has helped us in maintaining a family farm in today’s economy. Our agritainment facility has also grown through the years. After starting our first year with educating and entertaining about 7,000 adults and children, today we see an average of 20,000 people in a season.
All family members take part in the operation. Bud and Steve manage and supervise. Susie, Susan, and I are all a part of the daily operations, whether its office work, running errands, field trips, or all day FUN on Saturdays running the Corn Maze! Grandchildren, Megan, Andrew, Kase, Koda, and Kole are also very much involved whether it be caring for horses, mowing grass, working cattle, helping with planting, harvesting, or working at the Corn Maze.
By allowing GOD to be first in our lives and trusting him. We have been blessed and continue to be blessed daily in all we do.