By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Two farmers and one business were recognized on Thursday night during the annual Heritage Farm-City Banquet.
Jack Stickney and Barry Jason Williams were named Heritage farmers, and Ravenna Food Mart owners George and Becky Oliver received a Heritage award for their business.
The awards presentation began with agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor Lynn Miller introducing FFA president Madison McKinney. Miller thanked the Kiwanis Club for recognizing farmers and said the FFA has attended the banquet all 20 years they’ve been invited.
McKinney spoke about her experiences with FFA and how they have helped build her confidence.
“I guess I’m out of my shell now, because of Ms. Miller,” she said.
Ric Bessin, Entomologist at the University of Kentucky, spoke about invasive insects before the presentation of awards.
Tom Bonny presented the first plaque to Jack Stickney, who, in his introduction, said he had dreamed of owning and farming land since he was a boy in Falls Church, VA in the early 60s.
In 1987, his dream became a reality as he purchased 84 acres on Twin Creek, adjacent to the Red River.
Jack, a geologist, and Teresa, a teacher, built a restored log cabin from two old cabins moved from the Patsy and Cobb Hill area. They continued to work to support their farm and raise their son, Caleb, now a junior at Harvard University.
Organic gardening and raising Shiitake mushrooms were the start of their farming venture. In 1987, the Stickneys began with 40 shiitake logs. Over time, they built barns, fences, roads, a solar kiln, and purchased 49 additional acres. Now they have 17 grass-fed cattle and actively manage and utilize the 100 acres of woodland.
Their farm is a work in progress, but they press forward with hope as they enter their fourth decade of “living the good life—farm living.”
Jack is a Master Tree Farmer and Master Logger, and in 2016, was named Kentucky Tree Farmer of the Year by the Kentucky Tree Farm Committee.
In 2019, Jack retired and became a full-time farmer. He sits on numerous boards and committees and has won several additional awards over the decades.
Barry Jason Williams was introduced by Kiwanian Richard Snowden, who said Williams is one of the hardest working young men he has ever met.
Williams works full-time for the railroad, while raising corn, soybeans, and beef cattle in his “spare” time. He is married to Kara Dawn Newton, and they have two little girls.
Kiwanian Larry Stewart introduced George Oliver. Stewart said he first worked with Oliver and his wife when they worked for him at B&C Wholesale. A few years later, Becky was still working for him as a secretary, and George was working at Convenient Food Mart, when Becky happened to mention one day that George would give anything to be partners with Stewart in the Ravenna Food Mart. Stewart liked the idea, so the two had a talk and quickly worked out an agreement.
Oliver and Stewart owned Ravenna Food Mart together from the spring of 1992, then Stewart asked Oliver if he’d be interested in buying out his share. Four years ago, Stewart offered to sell his share to the Olivers.
Stewart said the Olivers are “the kind of people you can hand your pocketbook to” and trust them to be honest.