Family’s donation of treasured farm sustains a legacy of support
For generations, the waving fields of wheat on the Reinbold farm have fed and sustained Northwest families.
A third-generation farm passed down in the family since the 1930s, these thousand rolling acres near Davenport, Wash., dotted with groves of trees, sun-dappled ponds and a towering elevator, produced wheat crops every summer, harvested together by grandfather and grandson.
Now, as a family gift to Washington State University’s Land Legacy program, these fields will continue to nourish student minds, growing a harvest of discoveries by CAHNRS Cougs.
Hard work and ingenuity
On his farm, in the buildings, tools and machines that he built by hand, and in the gifts and lessons that he gave to others, Simon Reinbold left his mark.
Born in 1899 in Egypt, Wash., Simon grew up on the family farm and marched off to World War I, barracking inside the unfinished Wilson Hall on the WSU campus. Long after, he would relate to family members how the winter wind whistled through fabric-covered windows in his top-floor dormer while he trained to be a soldier.
After the war, Simon promptly went home to Washington’s grain country, farming with his family and eventually purchasing the Davenport property in 1939.
Farming in the last century required ingenuity and independence, and farmer Simon was a blacksmith, carpenter, engineer and mechanic rolled into one. He built windmills and elevators, along with an extensive shop and blacksmith’s forge to craft whatever hardware he needed. Unafraid to innovate, he benefited from WSU Extension discoveries in soil conservation and fertilizer use to get the most out of his ground.
Simon’s wife, Marvel, was equally a pioneer. Growing up on a farm, she knew how to make a little go a long way. A great canner and an avid sewer, Marvel filled their farmhouse with her best and tastiest.
“My grandparents always believed in hard work, thrift and involvement,” says current owner Jim Batch, Simon and Marvel’s grandson. “They expected you to work for what you have, but they also gave back.”
A place to grow
A Pasco native and Washington State University alumnus, Jim came of age on the farm, helping his grandfather bring in the harvest.
“As far back as I can remember, I would join my grandparents here every summer,” he said.
Jim’s mother, Donna, had been adopted by Simon and Marvel, and Jim was the only grandchild with a real connection to the farm, playing in muddy fields and discovering new strengths and talents amid the late-summer wheat.
When Jim turned 12, carefree play gave way to new responsibilities, when Simon enlisted him to drive a ton-and-a-half farm truck hauling 20,000 tons of wheat to the family’s grain elevator. The experience grounded him, giving him a strong work ethic and an appreciation for the farm and the land, along with $15 a day.
“Grandpa Simon figured it would build a good work ethic and an appreciation for the farm,” said Jim. It did that, and more.
Seated high on a pillow, he’d drive the farm’s “trap wagon,” a ’35 Chevy loaded with the farm’s tools, grease guns and gas cans, helping Simon repair combine engines on the fly.
“I’m a hands-on engineer. I like to get into the guts of things,” says Jim. “Part of that comes from my farm experience, where, if you needed something done, you got out the wrenches and you did it!”
Simon’s farm was where Jim developed skills and confidence that would one day serve him well as a professional engineer, assembling computer systems that contributed to the discovery of the first gravitational waves.
Keeping the legacy
Simon, who passed on in 1995 at the age of 96, left the farm to Jim.
The farm became a retreat where Jim and his wife Nancy explored new callings, blacksmithing on Simon’s original forge while connecting with their roots.
Thanks to Simon’s wartime connection to the campus, he and Marvel long supported WSU students. In their lifetime, they created a WSU scholarship fund for students in agronomy, soils, human nutrition, and dietetics. Jim and Nancy have continued this support in Simon and Marvel’s names.
Now, with no family members available to carry on the farming legacy, the couple has decided to leave the property to WSU, keeping and building on Simon and Marvel’s lifelong tradition of support.
Simon and Marvel would be pleased that their farm will continue, intact, to help students make hands-on discoveries that help others, in agriculture and far beyond.
“Jim is honoring his grandfather with this gift,” said Nancy. “I know he would approve.”
Gifts preserve what matters
Through the WSU Land Legacy program, gifts can be designated to benefit virtually any WSU activity, and donors can direct their contributions to what matters most to them.
“Farms like the Reinbolds’ have sustained Washington families and communities for generations,” says Hal Johnson, Cougar alumnus, farmer and the university’s Land Legacy Council chair. “This land represents hard work and stewardship, values that we hold most dear and that guarantee a sustainable world for generations to come.”