By Sydni Anderson, Staff writer
Amid their studies at Murray State, some students manage to go beyond their major and chase their dreams. More than 11 miles north of Murray, Kentucky, is a rural city called Hardin, Kentucky, home to junior and agribusiness major Ben Warren.
“My family has lived here for at least for four or five generations,” Warren said. “My grandparents started a farm in Hardin and they were hog farmers.”
Warren said after his father returned from playing college basketball at Vanderbilt, he joined the family trade. It was only in the early 90s the Warren family decided to stop. Warren’s grandparents retired and his father started a Christian ministry. Despite his family’s removal from farming, Warren said he’s been doing it his whole life. He said he’s gained experience through working for a local farmer since he was 12 years old, and when he was 16, he decided to farm for himself.
“Dad let me start with a little bit of property that he had and eventually he let me do all of it,” Warren said.
Down the line he started leasing property from other people. Warren said he now tends to 300 acres and currently farms corn and soybeans.
His new operation is a greenhouse for tomatoes. He said he saw a lot of potential in the greenhouse market because they extend growing time and can even lead to a year-round season, since crops are able to stay warm.
Keith Harris, a self-employed farmer and family friend of the Warrens, said his son and Warren grew up together. He vouched for the Murray State student and said he thinks Warren’s greenhouse is a great avenue to get started on.
“It’s encouraging to see a young man have a vision and be acting on it,” Harris said. “He’s taking a chance and following his dreams. It’s an admirable trait.”
Warren said he also sees potential in a collaboration between the greenhouse and a newer type of system.
“It’s a kind of new and upcoming thing, this hydroponics,” Warren said. “It’s just more production per plant. Instead of me going out and putting more plants into a field, with this I can produce as much as that acre.”
Warren said he plans on selling produce locally and in Nashville, Tennessee farmers’ markets, but played with the idea of working with local restaurants. Warren also has a land management company called Warren Land Solutions.
Yet, among these achievements, he’s faced hardship.
“When I was a freshman [in college] my dad passed away,” Warren said. “That helped push me to do these things,” Warren said.
Aaron Walker, a life coach and businessman in Nashville has known Warren for over 16 years and has watched him grow up. Walker said Warren’s father was his best friend and a spiritual mentor. He forecasted an awesome end to Warren’s project.
“Knowing him, the greenhouse will be done right,” Walker said. “Ben is a fine young man and if I had a son, I’d want it to be him.”