At first glance, Marthasville, Missouri, seems like any regular small town. There are the typical little bungalow houses with nice front porches. There’s a gas station or two and a feed store. There’s a postage-stamp size public park and a Dollar General. But there’s more than meets the eye in the town of Marthasville.
Just a few miles north of city limits you’ll find a sign reading “Falling Timber Farm.” This farm grows corn, soybeans, and wheat, and raises mostly registered polled hereford cattle, but also a few registered angus cattle as well. This is the home of the Ridders, who run the family farm, and have been doing so for over 40 years.
John Ridder was born a farmer, raised a gentleman and a stockman and learned to be a businessman. Ridder sees nothing but continued growth and marketing for Falling Timber Farm. He understands the importance of flexibility in today’s changing markets and adaptation to new technology. Falling Timber partners with, and is a representative for, Genex for AI service, VitaFerm for feed service, and BigYield for crop services. They all brought something to the table that Ridder felt could improve their specific areas in one way or another.
According to this future-minded young farmer, they all have one thing in common.
“They are the best fit for our operation that is the most progressive in their work,” he said. “We see them as giving the best opportunities down the road.”
Ridder has been involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm since he was a child.
“When I was old enough to walk, I was out there helping dad feed square bales, paint buildings, and carrying silage by shovel because we didn’t have the machinery to do it,” he said.
According to his mother, Yvonne Ridder, drive and determination are just part of his genetic makeup.
“He always had the drive to work,” Yvonne said. “When he was 4 years old, he picked up ear corn out of the field and spent the fall shelling it by hand. He had blisters all fall. He would put it in his little red wagon and haul it up the road to feed the hogs.”
Ridder has helped to make big changes for Falling Timber Farm by increasing the operation’s size, marketability, and reaching out for connections to innovative companies. They have begun to rent and farm more land, increase their cow herd and hire new employees. Ridder understands a commercial operation is much easier to run for someone who is looking at getting into raising cattle. However, FTF has found its niche market: its long history of raising high quality beef with high quality care.
“Virtues and values have always played a large role in our selections and decisions,” Ridder said. “We make our choices based on what’s right and on what we care about, not necessarily on what will make the most money.”
Through his high school career, Ridder was an active FFA member. He represented his home chapter as a Chapter, Area, and State FFA Officer. He was active in Career Development Events (CDE’s) and Leadership Development Events (LDE’s), participating in public speaking and livestock judging. He was selected to participate in the Missouri Agribusiness Academy, and showed livestock across Missouri growing up. He attributes his involvement in the organization to his involvement in the community.
“To bridge the gap between producers and consumers we have to not only be willing to tell consumers what we do, but also to show them how and why we do it,” Ridder said.
He is motivated by the outcome of a successful product through hard work, and it makes him love what he does every day.
“Getting to work with people and livestock just makes it that much better,” he said.
Falling Timber farm has been a face for agriculture in the St. Louis area, and Ridder has even made it onto the big screen at Busch Stadium representing Missouri Corn. While, such accolades and recognition are nice, if you ask him, he’s just another hardworking farmer who is doing what he loves.