Home in Mount Vernon

Rural Values

"Knox County is a place you can call home"

~Pat Crow, President of the Knox County Visitor's Bureau

In a recent community wide conference entitled Focus 2100, sponsored by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, a new development consensus for Knox County was drafted. The primary concern of the community in terms of development, as a result of the conference, is to "develop a county-wide land use mission statement and plan to protect/preserve our rural and community character-to be updated every five years." Even though agriculture is not mentioned in association with "rural and community character," it is inherent to Knox County's rural setting, thus ultimately affecting the character of the overall community. For many residents of Columbus and similar metropolitan areas, Knox County's rolling hills and complacent farmland provide a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of city life. But, there is more to the scenery than the grazing cattle and fields of golden corn swaying to the melody of the wind. The agricultural character of Knox County instills certain values within the people which help to establish an even stronger sense of cohesiveness within the community. As Katherine Brown, who operates one of the largest sugar maple tree farms in the county, conveys, there is much more to the farm than normally meets the eye, "I don't think that kids, maybe even some adults, are really aware of how everything is so rooted in the farm."

With agriculture acting as the main industry in Knox County, family farming contributes to the local community through the sale of agricultural products. Farming also provides business for dealers of agricultural equipment and supplies. The Grange, OSU Extension office, Farm Bureau and Masons not only provide service for the farming community, but also sponsor many volunteer and social activities. Gary Bebout, a retired farmer from Gambier says of his fellow Masons, "It's just real nice to know you've got friends close and that's what it is, a friendly organization. It works like the Grange and any other community organization." In addition to these service organizations, 4-H and Future Farmers of America support and educate many of the county's youth. And every July, along with the young children and adults who display their 4-H projects, the county comes alive to celebrate all aspects of farming at the Knox County Fair.

Road in Knox County

Beyond the service organizations and activities of Knox County, there is a certain commitment to one another and the overall community. Father Richard Snoke of the Saint Luke Catholic Parish in Danville recalls, "I know that a few years back we had a drought and everybody kinda' buckled down and kinda' helped . . .we were able to make it." In the years since the drought things haven't changed all that much, neighbors are still friendly and continue the tradition of looking out for one another. Gary Bebout reiterates the unwritten etiquette of the county saying, "Well, if somebody is sick or something around the community, usually they [neighbors] just get together and go and do their crops for 'em or whatever, we still help each other around here. That's just one of the things that is kind of stressed around here. The rules are not written as you come into the township, but it's there. No, it's unwritten rules. I don't think people need to live by themselves."

Gary Bebout clearly describes this sharing among neighbors within Knox County. When asked what he considers to be a good neighbor he said, "A good neighbor? I don't know. Someone who is friendly and they share. They share with you both the good and the bad. If you can't pay that neighbor back, if that neighbor helps you more that you can help them pass it on and help another neighbor. You know I learnt that a long time ago." After offering to help his neighbor, Gary recalls his neighbor's kind response, "Well, I never expect you to pay me back, just pass it along to somebody else who is friendly." Gary added, "If I can help somebody, well that's what I want to do."

This friendly nature among neighbors not only establishes close community ties, but also a stronger sense of security. Pat Crow describes Knox County as safe and, "You know the schools are decent. There are some things that you don't get in the local schools that perhaps you could if you went to the cities, but when you put the difficulties the cities have with discipline, with all of the horrible things you see on the six o'clock news, you weigh that against the things you don't have in the small schools, to me that scale tips very carefully to small schools . . .all the opportunities I think are available in a small town . . .and you know if I leave my car unlocked or my house, no big deal."

Agriculture and family living seem to be the common threads running through Knox County. They are responsible for its aesthetics, safety, sense of community and stable economy. Unlike life in the city, there still remains a strong system of values, work ethic, activity within the community and an overall sense of comfort. The rural character of Knox County does not stem solely from its natural state, but from one institution--the family farm.

photo credit: Discover Knox County brochure from Knox County Visitor's Bureau.

Home Sources
E-Mail The Family Farm Project