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Prairie Post: Enduring the ups and downs of agriculture’s cycles is something to be celebrated.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

February 14, 2024

3 Min Read
A rock engraved with Schulz Farm Est. 1887 near a farm home
SOLID PRIDE: Every farm family should be proud of their endurance, as is the Schulz family. This rock — found on the home farm and in the ground long before my great-great-grandparents settled in Minnesota — is a symbol of the solid foundation that has been built. Courtesy of Deb Schulz

Reaching the ripe old age of 100 is an accomplishment.

According to an article from the Pew Research Center, an estimated 101,000 Americans are 100 years or older, or 0.03% of the population, but that number is projected to grow to about 422,000 by 2054.

Newspapers occasionally publish business honor rolls, recognizing local businesses for their longevity.

Every year since 1976, the Minnesota State Fair, in conjunction with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, has recognized farms and farm families with an honor roll of Century Farms. These farms and the families behind them have endured the ups and downs of the cyclical nature of today’s agriculture to survive and hopefully thrive.

Since the origin of the program, more than 11,000 Century Farms have been recognized in Minnesota. It would be interesting to see a list of families who have reached quasquicentennial (125 years) farm status or more. It would also be interesting to see how many of those 11,000 Century Farms are still in the family today.

To qualify as a Century Farm, the farm must be:

  • at least 100 years old according to authentic land records

  • in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years (continuous residence on the farm is not required)

  • at least 50 acres

  • currently involved in agricultural production

Solid foundation

My family’s farm has the honor of being a Century Farm, as my great-great-grandparents Johann and Augusta Schulz brought their family from Germany to settle in Minnesota in 1887. The original home farm, where my brother raised his family, is still in the family name. For the last few years, the land has been rented out, but it still raises some of the best corn and soybeans around.

To celebrate our family’s farming heritage, in 1987, we held a two-day event on the home farm. Also, to honor its longevity, my mother painted the farm timeline on a 4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood that greeted visitors as they pulled in the drive.

Age and the elements caught up with the sign, and my brother decided it best to take it down, with the intention of replacing it with something more durable. Well, that something durable came as a gift from the ground.

While working the ground the last couple of years, the farmer-renter found a large rock, which I’d actually call a boulder. That rock/boulder had split, and half of it now sits at the end of the driveway, as you see in the photo above.

Though the land is no longer worked by blood, we still take a lot of pride in the Schulz farm and the history that it represents. I never knew my great-great-grandparents or great-grandparents, but I know all the hard work that my grandparents, parents, and brother and I put in to enable the farm to succeed through the decades.

It is comforting to know that the decision to no longer work the ground ourselves was a personal choice by my brother and dad, and not a decision forced by a lender.

The foundation built by the previous generations has endured, as it has for so many other family farms across the heartland. Sure, there have been struggles, but farmers endure. As we celebrate National Ag Day on March 19, let’s honor those who have come before and encourage those yet to follow.

Even if your family farm may not qualify for a Century Farm plaque, celebrate that the farm is still in your family name. Maybe it’s your turn to start a legacy.

Comments? Send email to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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