Greenville farmer amazed as crowdfunding site offers relief from tornado damage

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by JOBIN PANICKER

WFAA

Posted on April 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM

GREENVILLE, Texas -- It took Robert Hutchins 19 years to build the organic farm that he’s proud of.

“We’re not just a seller, we are their farm,” Hutchins said, referring to all the customers in the community he serves. But before he and his family started Rehoboth Ranch in Greenville, he had a corporate executive job with Raytheon.

Over 12 years, he said he had more money than he could want, but less time he could give his family.

“We’ve learned to live on one-sixth of what we’re used to,” Hutchins said. “I don’t want to get in my 60s and have to say that regret.”

But now that he’s traded slacks for overalls and boots, he has plenty of work to do around the farm. Rehoboth Ranch was decimated by the tornado that tore through the area of Greenville last week.

“I’m amazed of the force it must have taken to rip all this up,” Hutchins said, assessing the damage.

What he built was un-built by Mother Nature. Barns are now just boards. His roof was ripped off and his trees were ripped up.

“I haven’t lost anything that affects the important things,” Hutchins said, referring to his wife and 12 children.

He said his faith and his family are what drives this native of Greenville. But his story resonated with the country. Donations poured in for this uninsured organic farmer.

“It’s restored my faith in the American people,” he said. Their campaign on the crowdfunding site Go Fund Me has raised more than $70,000.

“Their contribution is saying, 'You’re on to something good here, and I want it to continue,'” Hutchins said.

Hue's is also thankful for all the volunteers who have willingly come to his ranch to help out. Close to 80 people showed last weekend, and more are expected this upcoming weekend. Family friends have come by every day to help the family pick up the pieces.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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