Kentucky State University named its 2021 Small Farmer of the Year

Kentucky State University named its 2021 Small Farmer of the Year

Kentucky State University named Travis Cleaver its 2021 Small Farmer of the Year. 

Interested in farming since he was a little kid on his parents’ tobacco farm, Cleaver now farms in Bonnieville and Hodgenville, working with his family to operate Cleav’s Family Market. They raise and sell hogs, cows, chickens, rabbits and have an 18-week market garden with produce grown in their three high tunnels and via row cropping.

Cleaver has received two Small-Scale Farm Grants from Kentucky State and has attended educational opportunities such as the Small, Limited-Resource, Minority Farmers Conference. He has worked with multiple Kentucky State employees, including Steve Skelton on chicken processing and Joni Nelson on the grants.

Cleaver has watched in the past as mentors of his have been recognized as Small Farmer of the Year, thinking, “Man, I want to be like them one day.” It’s “pretty cool” to now receive the same honor, he said.

“You get to put your name with their name,” he said. “It just makes me reflect on all of them that did stuff to help me get here.”

Nelson nominated Cleaver for Small Farmer of the Year because of his passion for his own farm and for helping others in his community.

“I know I can always call on him if I have a farmer in his area who needs some guidance,” she said.

Cleav’s Family Market really is a family affair: Cleaver works with his parents, his girlfriend Heather Cooper, his two daughters, and employees who feel like family.

“It’s amazing, the people you put on your team, how they make you better,” Cleaver said. “Just make sure that you have somebody on your team that’s going to push you and support you.”

At 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays, after a full week of tending to the farm, harvesting, and packaging and selling orders, the family relaxes together and appreciates their hard work.

“It’s all rewarding then,” Cleaver said.

For more information about Cleav’s Family Market, visit here. For more information about Kentucky State University’s Small-Scale Farm Grant Program, visit here