teach visitors about the diversity of
agriculture in Arkansas.
In his 50x500-foot chicken houses,
he grows broilers for Tyson Foods. Each
house has a capacity of 37,500 birds,
and he produces six to seven batches
of chickens each year. Litter from the
broilers fertilizes his land and generates
income through sales to other farmers.
“There is a strong demand for poultry
litter,” he says.
At one time, the Alston family had
a registered Angus herd, but they sold
most of the cattle when his father’s
health declined. He later sold most of
the commercial cows, but kept a select
group of heifers to produce beef to sell
at the farm’s market. He also raises Hereford
cross pigs for pork that is sold at Holly Springs
He established a commercial kitchen to
process fruits and vegetables. The kitchen
also provides breakfast and lunch to customers who visit the farm. He hopes to expand
sales of homemade breads and pastries at the
market, and to add a small dairy to produce
fresh milk and cheese for sale at the market.
His newest enterprise is a “farmstay” vacation rental. Up to eight guests can experience
farm life in a renovated farmhouse available
Prior to planting the corn maze, Alston
grows spring oats, planted in March and harvested as round bale silage about 60 days
later. He also has cooperated with Arkansas
Extension in testing spring oats.
Though he has farmed most of his life,
he didn’t become a full-time farmer until he
decided to raise chickens. He was going to
build four houses, but ended up building eight
after seeing that chickens would allow his wife,
Deedee, to work full-time on the farm.
The houses were approved in 2014, but
there were construction delays. “Our faith was
forged while building the chicken houses,”
says Alston. The delay meant that he had
no income, so he improvised by developing
the agritourism and commercial vegetable
The delay also prompted him to offer
custom farming services, and he still brings in
extra income by providing cutting, raking, and
baling of hay and round bale silage, as well as
mowing and litter and lime spreading services.
Occasionally, he provides artificial insemination services for other cattle producers.
“Deedee and I left good corporate jobs
that most folks would have kept,” says Alston.
“Deedee is a forward thinker like no other.”
She left a long term position as chief operating officer for a community health center to
work on the farm. The daughter of a logger
and fur trapper, she is the farm’s chief financial
officer and handles marketing and accounting, as well as working with the crops, cattle,
and poultry. “We are a team, and treat the
farm as a business,” Luke says.
The Alstons enjoy hosting visitors. Luke
recalls a 93-year-old woman who enjoyed
her first ever hayride on their farm. As active
members of Faith Missionary Baptist Church,
they give God credit for their success.
Luke is president of Polk County Cattlemens
Association and chairs the Polk County Farm
Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers organization. He’s on the board of the Polk County Farm
Bureau and serves on an Extension advisory
committee, is a member of the Arkansas Cattlemens Association, a 4-H parent volunteer, a
public speaker for Extension, and a graduate of
the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class. He’s
also a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef
Association and was a member of the American Angus Association.
Deedee chairs the Polk County Farm Bureau
is a Master Gardener
and a member of the
Polk County Beekeepers, and has served
on advisory committees for Mena Middle
School and Acorn
public schools. She
helped start a home
economics club for
young women interested in canning and
fresh foods, serves as
an election poll worker,
is a public speaker at
service clubs, and is
superintendent of the
crops division at the
Polk County Fair.
She has been active
in Arkansas Women
in Agriculture, is a
member of the Arkan-
sas Beekeepers Asso-
ciation, on the board
of the Arkansas Agri-
has served as a 4-H
parent volunteer, is in
the Young Cattlemen’s
Leadership Class, and
has been a member of
the National Cattlemen’s Beef Associa-
tion since 2013.
Luke and Deedee have two teenage
sons, Ryan and Drey. Ryan is pursuing a
medical degree and is a sophomore at
the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
At home on weekends, he helps manage
the chickens. He also owns cattle, runs
the cash register at the farm’s market, and
occasionally produces a signature dish of
homemade crêpes in the Holly Springs
Drey has completed eighth grade and
was a top student in his school’s agriculture classes. He developed mechanical
skills during the seventh grade of home
schooling. In a blacksmithing club, he
forged hardware used in the farm’s attractions
for children and in a new greenhouse. He looks
forward to playing football and being in FFA
as a ninth grader. He also owns cattle, helps in
the poultry houses, is raising a show calf, and
aspires to be a John Deere diesel mechanic.
Maddison Stewart, social media specialist with Arkansas Farm Bureau, is the state
coordinator for the Farmer of the Year award
in Arkansas. Alston was nominated for the
Farmer of the Year honor by Carla Vaught,
Extension agent in Polk County, Ark. Vaught
says she admires Alston’s devotion to agriculture and how he and Deedee left successful careers to become dedicated, innovative
farmers. “They do nothing without researching it first,” she says.
Nominator Carla Vaught and Luke Alston
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