Cecil Farms is a family owned and operated farm located on the western side of Owensboro, Kentucky. Gary & Imelda Cecil, along with their children: Ryan, Suzanne & Katie (and spouses & grandchildren) are the faces behind the name.
Gary Cecil grew up farming, although his father, Thomas Cecil, stopped farming in 1959, when Gary was 7 years old. Thomas Cecil (with his brother Marion) raised hogs, corn, tobacco, and a garden of fruits and vegetables. (Strawberries, rubarb, okra, potatoes, more, and always tomatoes….great granddad loved tomatoes.) They didn’t have running water and the water ran out all of the time in the well too. They were only able to heat two rooms of their two story farm house, but it was still really cold…..they had a coal fireplace and water would still freeze within 10 feet of the stove. In the Summer time they were able to use more rooms of the house.
In 1959, Thomas took a job with REA (Green River Electric) making $1.35/hour. In 1960 he got a loan for $10,000 to build a house where they had indoor plumbing for the first time. Thomas, Easie and raising their 7 children (One being Gary) lived in the house that Thomas built until 2003.
Gary rode on a tractor constantly from the time he was 5 years old. Interestingly enough, when his own son Ryan came along, he did the same!
Gary worked on his uncle Marion’s farm throughout his teenage years. In 1974, Gary married Imelda (Warren), a farm-girl herself, and shortly thereafter, purchased his own farm and began from there. Imelda has been a huge support for Gary and Cecil Farms through the years, playing many different roles to help run the family farm as a business to make a living to support our dreams and goals. Today this is the home farm we work from, spanning 140 acres.
Ryan, Suzanne & Katie grew up involved with farming and agriculture in differing ways. They were very involved in 4-H year-round, showing livestock (sheep) throughout their summers.
Ryan became a key contributor to the farm production at a very young age, as he was always begging to be in the fields with his dad. Katie loved to spend her summers in the dirt growing up and is still a key idea developer and marketing contributor today. You can spot Katie on some Saturday mornings at the Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market juggling multiple tasks, connecting with our consumers.
Stop by and say “Hi!”
Ryan spent his teenage years farming 365 days a year. He took on milking responsibilities at our neighboring cousins (Cecil Farms) dairy early in the mornings before schools and again in the evenings after school to earn extra money. He also spent several years raising dairy cattle during their in-between stages (between birth and age of producing milk).
All the while, Ryan, worked tirelessly (and still does) with Gary to produce great harvests and build a superior, technologically advanced, Custom Lime & Fertilizer Spreading Service. Today, Ryan is key in all operations that Cecil Farms has going.
It is jokingly said that Suzanne was “the last one ever expected to be seen back working on the farm”. Well, she’s back to her roots and utilizing her strengths to help Cecil Farms family traditions carry-on to our future generations.
Suzanne operates with Gary and Ryan to provide important connections between our farm and our community. You can find Suzanne where the produce is every weekday, working with packing and shipping/delivery and at farmers’ markets every Saturday, as well as involved in many community activities year-round (and will most likely spot her children right there beside her). It’s a family affair!
The farm properties that both Ryan Cecil (70 acres) and Suzanne Cecil White (9.25 acres) now live on have been in our family since 1918, originally owned by Ryan and Suzanne’s great grandparents (Imelda’s Grandparents) Leo & Ruth Warren. Ryan and Suzanne’s mother (Imelda) grew up on these farms with her father farming this land. Ryan purchased the farm in 2006 and Suzanne purchased a plot of the farm in 2011.
We are so glad that you are interested in getting to know our farm! We would love to meet you sometime at the Farmer’s Market or at one of our on-farm activities. Come say hello! Introduce yourself. Let’s share stories!
Cecil Farms has raised a variety of fresh produce since about 1981. We have raised watermelons, potatoes, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more for grocery chains for several decades.
Cecil Farms raised about 300 acres of chipping potatoes for 25 years, serving some of your favorite potato chip companies. Around 2005, we began making the transition from potatoes to seedless watermelons. Now we are raising anywhere from 250-500 acres of seedless watermelons annually, going into major grocery chains nationwide spanning from the West Coast to the East Coast and as far north as regions of Canada. All the while, Cecil Farms has continued to expand our variety of items grown, as well as expand the market we serve.
In 2011, Suzanne, along with her husband and daughter, moved back "home" to Owensboro. Having spent the previous 10 years as a high school mathematics teacher in Bowling Green, Suzanne returned to her roots and opted to join her brother Ryan and father Gary on the farm. This is when Cecil Farms decided to try a CSA in Owensboro with home delivery. It was a go!
Owensboro proved to be ready for a connection with their farmer and where and how their food is being grown. The community has been largely supportive of Cecil Farms’ CSA from it’s inception in 2011. Today, Cecil Farms is serving local farmers’ markets, farm stands, local schools, restaurants, homes, and grocery chains with the fresh produce we grow on our own farm. We believe it is extremely important for your health to fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables. We try to make it as convenient as possible for you and your family to partake in the local harvest season, as our family does too!
Cecil Farms practices sustainability and conservation on our land. Our farmland is precious and very limited. We use rotational cropping, no-tillage, cover crops and more. Many of our products are Organically Grown, although we are NOT CERTIFIED ORGANIC.
As is the same with many organic and conventional farms in this country, we more often than not, avoid the use of chemicals on our produce. On organic and conventional farms chemical use and practices are highly regulated and researched, and Cecil Farms follows the instruction of professionals from research institutions when resorting to any form of diagnostic protection plan.
Thankfully we live in the United States of America, where we have the safest food system in the world and so much credible research to go with it! We are also quite fortunate to have so many choices in our food in this country!
Did you know that chemical use in Organic production and Conventional production is regulated to such a minute parts per million (ppm) allowance that even if you were to accidently or unintentionally over-spray your garden, you would still have a large margin for error available, meaning that you still would be safe. That’s how our regulators have ensured safety for us all as consumers in this country!
We are so fortunate in the U.S.A. to be protected from harm.
Can you tell that Cecil Farms is supportive of both Organic and Conventional practices? Yes, because being behind the scenes, employing methods that qualify under the description of both, through our own experiences and expertise, we are aware of the health and safety of BOTH! We are also aware of so much misinformation and misconceptions out there.
We have chosen a stance to share a clear picture of our farm and practices. We choose not to blur the lines with popular marketing terms that we believe only add more confusion to consumers, leaving them questioning their food choices even more. Come talk to us. Come visit us. There is so much we can learn from each other. We LOVE our customers and we LOVE working on the land! We have dedicated our lives to the risks, ups and downs, and enjoyment that farming has to offer, while trying to feed ourselves and the world around us.
Have questions about food and farming? We find it best practice to consult with an “Expert in the Field” with your inquiries. Talk to a real farmer, someone who has been in practice through the years and knows farming like the back of his/her hands. Experience and wisdom speak volumes. They may not always speak with the same accent and tone inflection of your college professor or your financial advisor, but they will speak with integrity and from the heart to give you accurate information.
Cecil Farms continues to be greatly involved in creating opportunities for healthier food options during our growing season through the Owensboro Community, as well as educational opportunities throughout the year. We tend to focus on families with school age children most often. Cecil Farms has programs running with The Boys and Girls Club (Positive Sprouts), as well as the Daviess County Public Schools, and Family Resource Centers throughout Owensboro and Daviess County.
For several years now, Cecil Farms has “adopted” families identified by the local schools to give weekly produce throughout their children’s summer vacation to enable healthy eating options.
In 2015, Cecil Farms will be hosting its first group of students/children from The Boys and Girls Club on our farm multiple days a week through the Positive Sprouts program. These new “young farmers” coming out from the city will be gaining their FIRST farming experience and direct connection to their food through this program. They will be raising their own produce from seed to harvest on a plot of land on Cecil Farms.
Positive Sprouts includes classroom (barn) instruction and paper lessons, as well as hands-in-the-dirt experience. The class is fully responsible for the maintainance and production of their garden here on Cecil Farms. These kids will even get the opportunity and experience of actually taking their harvest to market and selling what they have grown themselves.
This guarantees to be a notable lifetime experience for those involved with potential for huge returns for our community and the next generation!
During our summer season, we have multiple donation outlets with both the Daviess County Public Schools and the Owensboro Public Schools. Being only one farm, we cannot feed the entire community. We realize that we actually are only scraping the surface with what we can offer ourselves. We believe we can definitely develop a feasible, sustainable produce delivery option for targeted areas of our community with your input and assistance. Have ideas? Want to contribute to our current programs? Contact us today.