OCU AG Students: A Season for Success

OCU Agribusiness Graduate, Angie Smith with husband Craig

Ohio Christian University is pleased to announce its’ first agribusiness graduates. Ryan Elliott and Angie Smith completed the associate program requirements and will receive their diplomas at the May commencement ceremony. Smith, who “loves to play in the dirt,” wanted to make her gardening hobby a business. Elliott, a life-long farmer, desired to expand his agriculture operation through education. With guidance from the program, both are moving forward in their careers.

Many summers as Smith was growing up, consisted of gardening and canning to provide sustenance for her grandparents. She realized it was a necessity, but also found great joy in working the land with her relatives. As an adult, Smith has been successful in administrative business roles, but she’s always felt a pull to go back to her farming roots. The agribusiness program was a combination of her talents, with the faith component that guides her life.

“God created vegetation and charges us to be good stewards of the land. I take that charge to heart,” Smith said. “I feel so close to the Lord in nature.”

For the last 15 years, Smith and her husband have been experimenting with organic gardening. She’s worked with fruits and vegetables in addition to trying various natural methods of removing pests and weeds. One item in particular that Smith’s professors helped her to understand was how commercial farmers are keeping up with third world needs, which is now driving Smith to be a part of the larger agriculture community that can provide natural nutrition.

“I want to give quality food without chemicals and really get back to the basics,” Smith said.

Now with the knowledge and connections she attained through OCU, she plans to start selling plugs (pot plants) and produce this spring. Eventually, Smith would like her homestead to be destination for people to pick their own raspberries, tomatoes and jalapenos. Part of that plan is to donate to the local food banks and community members in need.

“I don’t want anyone to be without fresh produce. I want them to be able to eat what I eat,” Smith said.

Elliott (right, with family) comes from a proud lineage of farmers. He always knew agriculture was his calling, but leaving the farm after high school to go to college didn’t seem fitting. He wanted the education background, but the scenario never worked until he learned of OCU’s new agribusiness program being offered in Chillicothe.

He was able to learn more about cover crops and the accounting aspects of farming through OCU. Elliott also credits the business plan requirement with helping him stay focused on his future goals.

Before starting the program, Elliott had become the go-to goat farmer in Ross County. He has a diverse customer base and has been invited by a Nepal diplomat to come to the country to teach their farmers how to raise meaty and healthy goats. Elliott loves to share his knowledge and invites customers to his “grocery store” on the farm.

“I kind of think of farming as a mission field," Elliott said. “Through the process I hope they can learn about Christ. I do talk about where I go to church and enjoy the opportunity to witness.”

Ahead for Elliott is an expansion of his goat operation and produce, but his main goals are to “farm till he dies” and pass the business on to his children.

“God intended for certain things to be done a certain way. I feel like the family farm is an important part in the way the animals are meant to be cared for and nurtured.”

To buy Elliott’s goat meat or produce, contact Elliot t Farms Inc. at 740-649-7076, relliottinc@yahoo.com  or visiting the Chillicothe Farmer’s Market every Sat. starting May-October. To order plants or produce from Smith contact Smith’s Homestead and Farm at740-497-2166, smithad@horizonview.net   

Learn more about the Agribusiness degree program offered by Ohio Christian University's College of Adult & Graduate Studies.