Keeping up with the Joneses

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Knob Noster farm family continues to diversify its operations

Rachel and Grant Jones pose with their children, Laney, Tinlee and Phillip, on their family farm near Knob Noster, Missouri. The Joneses are firm believers in diversification, whether it’s working with Milne Dinsdale Seed LLC or operating Simple Blessings Farm.

KNOB NOSTER, Mo. – Grant and Rachel Jones are setting a clear example for their three children with one important word for family farmers: Diversification.

They not only believe in dabbling in a variety of opportunities, they live it. Family farms like Jones Bros. Farm run generations deep because of a passion for agriculture and an understanding of what it takes to continue to build toward a successful future while also recognizing the legacy that was left for them.

“When you’re on a family farm, you have to roll up your sleeves and get through each thing together,” said Rachel Jones, who operates Simple Blessings Farm, and event rental space and Airbnb on the family’s property. “It makes you stronger at the end of the day by working through the wrenches that are thrown at you.

“If things aren’t going well, you adapt and diversify. I have a saying: ‘If you’re not growing, you’re dying.’ If we want our kids to have an opportunity to come back and keep the farm alive, we have to find ways to diversify.”

So many in agriculture understand that, and the Joneses have continued to battle. Grant Jones’ great-grandfather established the farm in 1871; the family moved to its existing location in 1897. The Joneses operate 4,000 acres of wheat, corn and soybeans and run about 300 head of beef cattle.

He’s also working with biological fertilizer enhancements with Milne-Dinsdale Seed LLC, a northwest Missouri-based company that is expanding its roots across the state.

“I’m working with our Pivot Bio and TuneUp+ programs,” said Grant Jones, who also serves as the president of the Knob Noster school board and is a coach for youth sports. “Travis (Milne) and I met 10 years ago, and we’ve been really good friends. We started doing business together three years ago.

“Travis and (Milne-Dinsdale Seed agronomist) Erin Marlow are very forward-thinking for anything to do with agriculture, so we’re able to bounce a lot of ideas off each other. Travis is a very good farmer, and he’s trying to help me do some things they’re doing up there. This is an expansion for me. Travis believes in these products, and I have a lot of trust in Travis and have seen his success in farming.”

The programs available through Milne-Dinsdale Seed LLC allow farmers to enhance their operations. By joining forces with the company, the Joneses are expanding their footprint on the family farm and continuing a philosophy that has served them well. It’s another layer that has enabled the family to continue pushing the envelope.

“Somehow we got lucky back in the ’30s,” said Grant Jones, who can be reached at (660) 553-8114; other information can be found at “Somebody came in and took a lot of pictures and a lot of videos of our farm, and we still have all that. My grandfather was a teenager, and it was the first time they put rubber tracks on one of our tractors.”

Grandpa John had plenty of tales to tell, and he shared his experiences with his son, Mark, now 71 and still very much part of the operation. Grant Jones’ cousin, Shea Jones, works with the family business, as does Grant’s brother, Tye, who also operates Jones Bros. Agri Service in La Monte, Missouri.

Diversification continues to define their calling to the family farm. By dipping their fingers in a variety of pools, the Joneses can identify a plethora of income streams, which helps them stave off all the challenges that come with making a living in agriculture. There are highs and lows in the industry, but they have managed them all with fortitude and a drive to excel.

“Inflation right now is just killing everything,” Grant Jones said of his most recent economic hurdle. “It seems like all the input costs – chemicals, fertilizer, fuel – are going to take their cut. Any time the general public thinks you’ve got a good price, somebody’s going to take that from the farmer.

“The prices this year have been hard, but I’d say 2023 was the hardest year I’ve ever experienced weather-wise. This is the worst drought I’ve seen in my lifetime. Our farm was just stricken something awful.”

He’s handling the roller coaster that is the family farm, all while he and Rachel are raising three children: Laney, 17, is a senior in high school who plans to attend Northwest Missouri State University in the fall; Tinlee is 13, and Phillip is 10. All are active and have been involved with numerous sports. Of course, with a mom and dad who can coach them, the kids have some advantages.

Grant and Rachel Jones created Simple Blessings Farm a decade ago, building off the experience they had when they married on their property on Aug. 1, 2009. It has become guiding light for Rachel to handle that aspect of the business, which includes a wedding barn and three cabins: the Silo Lodge, which was made from grain bins that had been used on the farm; a Rail Car, which has been converted to lodging; and the Airstream, which is a remodeled travel trailer.

“When Grant an I got married, it was just an extension of our story,” Rachel Jones said. “My grandpa farmed when I was growing up. I actually took a year off teaching when I had Phillip, and I got signed up with helping Grandpa John a lot.”

She was the perfect go-between on a busy operation. She’d help move machinery, feed and work with cattle, give rides from one field to the next and assist Grandpa John when he needed it. The two of them would pick pecans or cherries, and she’d help him in the garden.

“God was really giving me a vision for the future after I took that first step of faith and quit teaching,” Rachel Jones said. “He has continued to bless us and allow us to grow more than we could have imagined. That year ‘off’ will always hold some of my very best memories and inspiration.”

Each task offered her the reflection of life around her and a chance to look toward the future. There were also little hints that led the way to Simple Blessings Farm.

“We had some friends that wanted to get married on our farm and have their reception out here,” she said. “It became a joke at first, but we realized we had a hidden jewel of our view and a simple way of doing something that could be so stressful. There were no venues around us when we opened.”

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Now, there are 13 similar venues in a 30-mile radius of their place.

“Because we’re a true farm family and had the experience of putting a wedding on at our farm, we did it the right way,” Rachel Jones said. “We wanted that true, rustic experience, just like it was as part of our story. We were offering weddings, so it seemed like a natural fit to put the cabins in.”

Just like Rachel Jones did for her husband a decade or so ago by moving equipment or giving rides, Grant Jones is there when his wife needs him.

“Rachel handles the day-to-day needs of that,” he said. “I’m just the handyman. She’s the brains, and I am the brawn.”

They’ve proven, though, that operating a family farm takes teamwork, understanding and a willingness to find growth wherever possible to make sure the future remains strong.


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