Fifty-nine years and five generations later, the Martins have maintained their family namesake. They continue to be stewards of the land almost six decades after their patriarch began to farm. Since 1961, the Martin family has farmed in different areas of land in Terry County, Texas. Today, the youngest of the bunch, 25-year-old Kirk Martin, is continuing the family tradition.
It would be really hard for me to figure out what to do if I wasn’t a farmer, because I can’t see myself doing anything else.Kirk Martin
What was once a past time for Martin has now become a way of life. Born into a farming family, Martin recalls some of the earliest memories as a five-year-old spending time with his dad in a tractor or in a field.
“Sometimes, I would get bored and antsy just sitting in there,” Martin said. “So my dad would get me down, and I would sit in the middle of the field and play in the holes until he finished up.”
As he grew older, Martin said he went from riding in the tractor, to driving it alone, experiencing the long days and hard work he would encounter himself in the years to come.
“It would be really hard for me to figure out what to do if I wasn’t a farmer,” Martin said, “because I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
In 2016, he had the opportunity to pick up some land, so he decided to return to the farm and start producing his own crop. Through mentorship and partnership, Martin has helped grow Martin Family Farms. Five years after his first crop, Martin continues to farm alongside his father and older brother, both whom he credits for his success. Martin said he attributes his grandfather as the sole pioneer who kick-started the family farm.
“Working with family is always hard,” Martin said, “but I greatly appreciate having my dad, my brother and my grandpa, because without them I would be no where near where I am today.”
As a young farmer, Martin believes he is receptive of new innovations and technological advances within the farming industry. Understanding the importance and need of technology and sustainability on the farm, he stays informed on such systems that allow for farming to be more profitable and efficient.
Martin said his father had learned about different methods of water conservation and soon after decided to take on a project with the help of both of his sons. They built a water harvest system that would filter rainwater that sat on the top of their barn roof. The system collects fallen rainwater, filters it and stores it. The Martins then use the harvested water to spray their crop.
“We had drilled a well, and there was no water in there; barely enough water to run toilet and sink,” Martin said, “so we had to figure out a way to harvest some water.”
The Martin’s rainwater harvest system is placed along the top of their 19,000 square foot barn roof along with the filtration system running along the sides of the barn. Martin said they are able to supply up to 30,000 gallons of reusable water with only two and a half inches of rainfall.
While he stays up to date on different farming technologies and innovations, Martin also has developed interest in agricultural policy. He acknowledges the importance of technology on the farm, and on the media, which in most instances, is politically centered. Several years back, Martin was encouraged to join the West Texas Young Farmers Association, by then-president and fellow Terry County farmer, Mason Becker. In March, Martin was elected as the association’s newest president.
“Kirk is a great young man and he has always had a passion for promoting agriculture,” Becker said. “He has been heavily involved in the West Texas Young Farmers Association for several years and I am confident that he will lead the group in a good direction.”
The West Texas Young Farmers Association works to not only inform young farmers on issues surrounding agriculture, but also to implement positive change within the farming community, whether by sharing information with non-agricultural audiences, giving scholarships to high school students, or collaborating and learning from other producers.
Over the course of several years, the association has strengthened its once loosened ties. Starting as the Terry County Young Farmers Association several decades ago, sons of those who were once members decided to start the association up again. Becker said he hopes that the new leadership understands the difference they can make in the community and across the nation.
“It is my hope that the association continues to educate as many people as possible to what it takes to become a farmer in West Texas,” Becker said.
Martin said he was interested in joining because Becker explained to him that the only way for his voice to be heard was to get involved.
“I liked being involved from the get-go because I realized that I could be the voice of change in some way or another,” Martin said.
The association will occasionally meet with congressmen, state representatives and other political figures, to discuss their relevant issues and address questions and concerns. Although the association’s primary goal is not focused on informing the public on policy, they still share information from time to time and stay in touch with members of the community through social media.
“Facebook has been our way to communicate with the public,” Martin said, “and on Instagram we try to share the images of others to not only promote, but also share knowledge that other people might benefit from.”
Martin said he hopes audiences outside of agriculture will benefit from the association’s efforts on social media.
The young farmer believes that staying involved and staying informed are ways to share and pass on knowledge and constitute change.
“If we can use our platform to inform and teach others, why wouldn’t we?” he said.