Sugarcane, courage and connections. For five generations the Landry family farmers have known Louisiana’s soil better than most, supplying millions of pounds of sugar per year to store shelves from right here in Acadiana, on land that has been farmed for decades.
Situated in Loreauville, the appropriately named Loreauville Harvesting, ran by the Landry family, farms over 2,300 acres of land in Iberia Parish and 300 acres in St. Martin Parish. Todd Landry, a part owner of the farm, takes pride in the Loreauville name and the kind community that surrounds him.
“I think everyone from Loreauville is proud to be from Loreauville,” Todd says. “It’s such a great community to be a part of. The closeness and the togetherness of our community is really special. We’re very proud of it, so we’re happy to carry the (Loreauville) name.”
Today, Todd works the land with his brother Patrick, his wife Kelly and his son Nevin. Each, he says, has their own role to play to make Loreauville Harvesting successful. Keeping the books balanced while also helping with the farming, Todd affectionately says that their farm would not be standing without his wife, Kelly. Bringing both bad news and good, she became a master of numbers, always making sure another year would pass successfully.
The couple took control of the farm in 1985, some years after Todd’s father passed away. Together they carved a path to the future for the Landry farming family. Landry admits that he always knew his calling was agriculture, even when the choice wasn’t exactly straightforward.
“My Dad really wanted me to go to college, so I went out and got a degree in business,” he recalls. “When I came back, he really wanted me to go out and get a job, and I just wanted to be right here on the farm.”
Todd reasons if a person wants to farm, they’re going to find a way to farm and that’s what he did, he found his way back to the work he’s always enjoyed. He recalls both his father and grandfather farming, but describes his grandfather’s efforts as a different kind of agriculture, one centered around a need for survival rather than the commercial way of growing whatever his grandfather either needed or their income required.
“We’re some hardworking people, but we have no idea what they’ve gone through for us to have the opportunities we have now,” Todd professes.
Peppers, corn and other things grown by Otto Landry, Todd’s grandfather, on the same land still linger in his memory today. This leaves a constant reminder that he farms on his generational ground. Today, the Landry family farms only grow sugar cane, a crop that remains sustainable and sturdy enough for Louisiana’s unpredictable weather. The Landry family found happiness in developing the Louisiana staple of sugar cane, as whether the land experiences a hurricane, terrible storms or smiling sunny weather — the sugar cane will find a way to grow.
The farm feels a bit different from the days when Harold Landry, Todd’s father and Louis Landry used to run the farm. With his own brother and son at his back, Todd is looking forward to the future of the Landry farming family.
“Moral of the story is, don’t spit in the sky,” Landry says. “It’s 25 years later, and my son comes to tell me he wants to farm and I’m not too happy. So I found myself back in my Dad’s shoes.”
Todd says he wants his son to go into the farming life with eyes wide-open, knowing that from day to day, year to year, nothing is the same. Even a day like Father’s Day presents itself as a day of work for the Landry farming family, especially when Mother Nature always looms over all.
“(Nevin) said that’s what he wants to do,” Todd explains. “And I accept it. And now I’m happy because again I’m kind of living that dream. The dream that I wanted to farm with my Dad. Now I’m farming with my son. Those things kind of come full circle for you at some point, you just don’t realize it.”
Losing their father at an early age, Patrick Landry would also make the choice to join the family farm. Coming from a family of five kids, four boys and one girl, Patrick is the youngest of the brothers. For Todd, no one could possibly take care of their land better than family. Unlike other farms that may use a hired out farm manager, the Landry family keeps every decision to those that know the land best.
“It’s great to have another person that’s at your caliber,” Todd reasons. “It’s a family farm; we work together on a daily basis.”
The family describes their team as “Growers” a term he said is something of a middleman between God and the consumer, shepherding from the land to the plate. Today, that term requires much more technology than in Otto Landry’s day. Complete with laser leveling, GPS, self-driving tractors, crop tracking software and generated maps; farming crops is steadily integrating technology into the process. Nevin and Patrick are working together to use this new tech at Landry farms. Todd and Kelly are letting some of their past duties fall to the next generation as they work on an exciting new health business. They trust both Patrick and Nevin to pick up where they left off and keep the family farm thriving.
The Loreauville Harvesting Landry family stands as one unique bunch telling their own story through their sugar cane harvesting and through taking part in events like Stars of Style.
“To recognize the importance of the commodities and the people who provide them for us, we take it so much for granted in society today,” Todd expresses. “It’s great to be a participant in that. To what I’d say, ‘Tell your story’ because if you don’t tell your story, someone else will.”