Benton County "Farm Family Of The Year" Has Deep Roots

Mitch and Leslie Grace of Edwards will represent Benton County at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia as the 2023 Benton County Farm Family of the Year.
The Grace's live on their family ranch located in southern Benton County near Edwards.  Leslie works as the office manager at her family’s ranch, Henderson Ranch, located between Warsaw and Edwards.  Both Mitch and Leslie graduated from Warsaw High School where they met.
While Leslie was born into the ranching business, she pulled Mitch into the business when they were married.
“Mitch didn’t know much about ranching life until we were married, but he adjusted very quickly,” said Leslie.
The Grace's are presently running 320 pairs of cows and calves as well as 50 bred heifers.  They also have 100 heifers grazing in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
“We are partners with my brother Thad with the heifers in the Flint Hills,” Leslie said.  “And we are searching for more hay for the winter since the drought really hit us hard.”
The Grace family plans to attend the Missouri State Fair on August 14 as part of their honor of being named the Benton County Farm Family of the Year.  Their daughter Justine Howell and her family have been invited to attend as their guests.
“Dustin, Jayce, Carter and Lane all help us a lot on the ranch,” said Leslie.  “I don’t know how we would manage the ranch without them.”  
Justine is a teacher at John Boise Middle School. Her husband Dustin is a union pipefitter.  Jayce and Carter are both juniors at WHS and Lane will be a first grader at Warsaw South.
The Grace's also have three other children.
Taylor and his wife Amy live in Florida where they work in real estate.  They have also recently purchased two resorts near Warsaw.  Together, they have two boys.
Grace's other son Landon and his wife Sarah live in North Carolina.  Dr. Grace is an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University.  They are also the parents of a girl and a boy.
Grace's other daughter, Monica and her husband Stuart Belcke live in St. Louis where she is working on her PhD in clinical psychology.
While the Grace's love the life they have on the ranch, Leslie said it is not a career path that brings in a great deal of money.
“We love this lifestyle, but we have to have second jobs to support our lifestyle,” she said.
The Grace family was selected for this special recognition by the University of Missouri Extension Council.