By: Jonathan Gibbs
We are the fifth generation to operate our family farm east of Fox Lake. We are very excited and proud; our farm was one of this year’s recipients of a Wisconsin Century Farm award. From the time when I dented my mom’s dishwasher with my pedal tractor, it was pretty apparent that farming was in my blood. My wife Karen and I, along with our children Hayden and Natalie, operate our farm with a lot of help from my dad Dave and my uncle John, affectionately referred to as my “Senior Advisors.” They have not only been my family, but they have also been great mentors and role models.
Every so often someone asks why I farm, and honestly, from time to time I ask myself that same question. When I was younger, the big tractors and combines interested me, and I thought it was cool to be around and drive those machines. During my high school and college years, the science aspect of agriculture really started to interest me. Knowing the why and how of a plant’s growth, how my decisions affect the life of a plant or animal, and seeing something through from the beginning to the end became a passion. Upon graduating from UW-River Falls with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy, I was hoping to return to our family farm fulltime. Due to many circumstances, and most likely a lot of wisdom from my father, I found myself working fulltime off the farm for Hartung Brothers, Inc., a family-owned agriculture company. During my 13 years of employment with Hartung Brothers, I had the opportunity to travel in many areas of the Midwest, work with many farmers, and ended up getting one of the best “educations” money cannot buy. Then in 2011, I had the opportunity to return to our family farm in a fulltime capacity.
Both Karen and I grew up on farms, and we are enjoying raising our children on our family farm. We are passionate about meeting the challenges that crop production brings and how we can do this in an environmentally friendly way. We have fields where we can see Beaver Dam Lake from and others where we can see Fox Lake from, so this reminds us each day that the decisions we make on our farm will directly affect others. We use traditional practices like no-till seeding to keep our soil and crop inputs in place, but we have also incorporated technologies such as precision placement of fertilizer and cover crops, which help both our growing crops and the overall neighborhood where we farm. I look at the opportunity we have been given, not only to be part of the 2% of our population that “farm,” but that we are able to do this on land that has been in our family for over 100 years. We are able to do this with our past generations who we still learn from every day. While at the same time, we see the excitement and amazement that growing up on a farm brings our children. This drives our passion and our focus now and into the future.