Skip Beyersdorf may needle his predecessor Brian Fredericks for “talking him into” taking over the reins of the Saginaw County Farm Bureau, but it’s not like he was handed the keys to a jalopy. Truth is Beyersdorf took on an already-healthy county Farm Bureau with good participation in vital programs.
Accordingly, he sees no need to fix what ain’t broken.
“Steady as she goes,” he said. “My plan is to maintain the organization and move it along forward without any major hiccups.”
One foundational issue he hopes to address is the need to re-engage members’ interaction with each other and community members outside the farm sector.
“Young Farmers are harder to coalesce and group together than they used to be,” he noted, adding that less personal interaction across the organization has informed the decline of Community Action Groups and challenges Promotion & Education with maintaining regular contact with its target audiences.
“My own involvement started many moons ago,” Beyersdorf said, beginning as Saginaw’s Young Farmer chair, collaborating annually with peers in Bay, Tuscola and Arenac counties to organize and staff an agricultural exhibit at the Fashion Square Mall on Saginaw’s north side.
“Then I served on state Young Farmer committee for four years, then the state policy development committee,” he said. “I was active in MMPA, too — secretary-treasurer of our MMPA local.”
But in 1989 he hopped off the dairy-go-round, selling the milking herd to focus on rotating row crops and now about four acres of pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. He enjoys experimenting with different pumpkin and gourd varieties, all of which are sold directly to customers from the front yard facing west across Hemlock Road.
His great-grandparents started the farm just south of the village in 1915.
“My folks moved back to this farm a year after I was born, in 1951,” he shares, pointing to the earliest of the aerial farm photos adorning his office walls in a tidy, chronologically ordered array.
Skip is a natural historian and archivist with every stage of the farm’s evolution committed to memory, pointing out and describing in detail every subtle change to the grounds and buildings from one decade to the next.
“The livestock buildings are white, the machinery buildings are green,” he begins. “The equipment shed is built from strong panel purchased through Farm Bureau Services.”
When he isn’t bending a guest’s ear — he often has to explain the honor-based payment system to new customers leery of stuffing cash into a metal box — he busies himself with an endless stream of woodworking projects, fashioning quilt racks, walking sticks and heart-shaped boxes for worthy recipients.