CENTERBURG — The Oldtime Farming Festival has chosen the parade theme and the festival marshal for 2013.
Long-time farmer Jim Eckard will serve as the festival marshal for 2013, and the parade theme is “Saving the Past for the Future.”
Eckard was born on Eckard Road to Wilbert and Bernice Eckard, who were also farmers. His passion for farming began at age 5 when he saved a baby pig by feeding it with a bottle. The pig grew up and had eight piglets which he sold for eight cents a pound.
Eckard was in 4-H until he was old enough to enter Vocational Agriculture class his freshman year at Centerburg High School. He achieved the Ohio State Farmer Degree when he was a junior. He attended the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Mo., when he was a senior.
After graduating from high school, Eckard’s passion for agriculture grew. He would have preferred to start farming full time but times were hard and it was difficult for a young farmer to get started. He worked off the farm for a few years for an equipment dealership, North American Rockwell, and a car dealership as parts manager while still farming evenings and weekends. He went into full-time farming in 1973.
In 1969, Eckard married Charlene Walker and they have three children, Steve, Lori and Randy. They have three grandchildren. Their farm in Delaware County is in the Centerburg school district. Randy owns the Eckard homestead on Eckard Road. Progressive Farms was started by Eckard in 1998 with his sons, Steve and Randy. They grow corn and soybeans in Knox, Delaware and Licking counties.
Jim Eckard has always strived to stay on the leading edge in agriculture. He was one of the first to use the no-till method for corn and soybeans. He said in the early years everything was experimental but everything is much safer now and produces better crops than conventional methods.
Eckard, who has also built many sod waterways over the years, has used conservation practices to preserve the soil and was named the Delaware County Conservationist of the Year in 2006.
In addition, he has worked with the Ag Spectrum Co. in DeWitt, Iowa, as a plant nutrition dealer for 26 years. Eckard runs soil tests and does crop scouting for 25 other growers in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He enjoys working with other growers to help them achieve their goals as much as striving to better his own farming practices.
The Oldtime Farming Festival will take place Sept. 21-22.