An Idaho Inspiration
By Chelsea Chambers, Photography by Cy Gilbert
When looking to find a place in this world, you often start with nothing and work your way up. The beauty about starting with nothing is that you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Jeff Smith may not have had much when he moved to Idaho at the promising age of 22, however, he never let that fact discourage him as climbed his way up to the highest point of his career so far—living in his own forested oasis at the end of Eagle Road, doing what he loves each and every day while making a lasting name for himself by sharing his experiences and passing his knowledge onto others.
Smith has always been an adventurer, seeking thrill and experience through whatever endeavor he’s found. Hailing from Ohio, Smith moved to Idaho to fight fires for the forest service. He was part of the hotshot helicopter crew, and from there went on to logging. With each new undertaking came multiple doors of opportunity, and Smith has never been one to pass up an opportunity. It is this mentality that has allowed him to become such a great success in nearly everything he does. The logging industry helped pave the way to the United Mining Corporation, which sparked one of Smith’s greatest accomplishments: International Stone.
Throughout his lifetime, people were always telling Smith that he was crazy for taking the risks that he did, and that he would never succeed with such lavish and extravagant ideas. When mining and accumulation first began for International Stone, Smith was no stranger to the disbelief of others. His peers did not think that rocks would be a fruitful commodity. Despite what he was told, Smith pressed forward with what would later come to be known as “agriscaping “and International Stone became a wild success. Shortly after the founding of International Stone, a retail store for the company was opened and sold to every state in the U.S., every providence in Canada, as well as seven other foreign countries.
Clifford Johnson, one of Smith’s long-time mentors, sought to landscape the area outside a Best Western in Mountain Home. Smith pitched his design, which included grandiose waterfalls and large, decorative boulders. Smith also had every intention to plant trees that, according to an environmental impact statement, would never be able to grow or survive in that area because it was too hot, too cold, and too windy. While the initial response was not what Smith had hoped for, Johnson decided to take a leap of faith and put Smith’s design into action. The result was incredible, and the hotel saw immense gains, leading to the construction of several more hotels. The supposedly “ungrowable” trees thrived with an efflorescent beauty and splendor. Johnson continued to mentor Smith throughout his lifetime, saying, “If it’s good for the community, if it’s good for the state, and if it’s good for you, then do it!” This statement is one of the main drives that has fueled Smith’s determination to achieve success.
Currently, Smith spends his days tending to the 182 acre Twin Oaks Farms. He fell in love with the land when he first laid eyes on it. He was asked to plant trees for Ruby Basabe, who lived at the top of a large hill near the land. Again, the trees he wanted to plant were thought to be impossible to grow in that area. However, that had never stopped Smith before and certainly wasn’t going to now. The trees he planted grew immense and beautiful. Barbara Cimmino owned the land upon which Twin Oaks Farms was born, and he worked with her on the property. Eventually, he took over stewardship of the farm and still maintains it to this day.
Smith has many visions for Twin Oaks Farms, including sustainable farming, water development, “agriscaping,” habitat protection, youth development programs, and community involvement. Currently, the land is home to a wide variety of wildlife and agriculture. Smith also employs local youth with his Boots on the Ground program, which encourages hard work, education, and a myriad of pertinent skills such as ranching, farming, forestry, land management, horsemanship, and so much more. Vince Apodaca has been working at Twin Oaks for the last nine months and loves every day of it. Apodaca enjoys the variation in work and is constantly kept busy. “The farm gives you a lot of experience: sales experience, work experience, and people skills. It gives you the opportunity to show what you’re capable of.” There are also many community events held at Twin Oaks Farms throughout the year. Towards the end of the harvest, a corn maze is plowed, Halloween Land comes to life, and a Winter Wonderland emerges. Coming up on September 22nd is the second annual Tater Dash Mud Run—a 5k mud-laden course that promotes physical activity, health and wellness, and the aspiration to claim a second potato world record for Idaho.
Jeff Smith is an incredible citizen that, with continual drive and dedication, has shown that nothing is beyond reach. He is a firm believer that hard work will reap vast rewards, and that with enough motivation to step outside the box any goal can be attained. He is truly an American inspiration. It’s difficult to sum up the grandeur that is Jeff Smith in so many words, as he never stops moving and is forever on his way to achieving something more. His endless propensity for success and inspiring enthusiasm for life makes him fascinating, and an excellent role model for future generations of Idahoans. It is with a deep and boundless gratitude that we thank Jeff Smith for all of his hard work and perseverance to the grandeur of Idaho. Luckily, we’re sure that we will be seeing a whole lot more of Smith and his boundless potential. Smith is never satisfied, and he knows that one can always go a bit higher.