Written by: Leah Wilkinson | December 17, 2020
2020 was a year that I have been looking forward to for so many years. My entire family was. 2020 is the year my family’s farm in Fairmont, Minn., turned 100 years old. A century farm! That’s a pretty big deal and a reason to celebrate…until we couldn’t celebrate.
For years, we have talked about the big party and fireworks my dad always wanted. They planned and implemented the usual “spruce up the farm” projects that one does when your place will be on display. With the pandemic, all plans for the party were put on hold and that was yet another disappointment in this ever-crazy year. But it took me a while to realize that celebrating this achievement did not need to be done with a party. It could be done by recognizing this fantastic accomplishment and then working even harder to make sure that the next generation can get the farm to its 150th year and more.
Several articles have been written detailing my family farm’s history that provide an insight into the love and care that goes into making a family farm work for over 100 years. My great-great grandfather rented the farm in 1893 before buying another farm. My great-grandfather bought the farm then in 1920 after the owner stopped him as he passed in his horse and buggy on the way to town to offer the 155-acre farm for $165 per acre. The farm was diverse in dairy, beef, chickens, pigs and various crops for many years before my grandpa started to specialize in pork production. My dad, mom and brothers have carried on that tradition, growing it into an operation that now sustains three generations currently operating the farm.
Owning the same farm in one family for 100 years is something that takes dedication, determination and a love for farming. Not only does the farm have to survive all that is thrown at it from the markets, weather and regulation, but the family also needs to be strong enough to endure working together and passing the farm from generation to generation.
In Minnesota this year, there were 154 farms that were recognized as century farms. With less of us taking up production agriculture as our careers, it makes me wonder how rare these century farm celebrations will be in the rest of my lifetime. Even though I am not part of the day-to-day operations of the farm, I believe my career choice still allows me to contribute to the overall health of the agriculture industry. The career path you chose does too. It’s on all of us to work toward a strong agriculture industry that will continue to allow many more families like mine be able to achieve this accomplishment – and hopefully celebrate it with as big a fireworks show as they can pull together for their dad.