I have lost track of the number of times that I have heard the statement, “The average American is two generations removed from the farm.” Although I have never personally verified this information, it seems believable to me as it lines up pretty well with my own family.
My grandfather’s parents and grandparents were corn farmers in Indiana until the mid-1910’s when they moved to South Florida. They brought the name of the original farm (Eltrose Farms) with them, and purchased some farm ground near Belle Glade, Florida. Both my grandfather and his brother started a law firm in West Palm Beach after completing law school, but they continued to actively manage Eltrose Farms until the 1960’s. They practiced law during the week, and then farmed on the weekends.
In addition to growing vegetables, they also ran a small herd of registered Santa Gertruse cattle. Some of my dad’s fondest childhood memories were of weekends out at the farm. The family continued to actively manage the land until the mid-1960’s when my Great Uncle Terry was killed by a train at a railroad crossing when he was traveling back home to West Palm Beach after a weekend at the farm.
About that time, sugarcane was becoming the dominant crop grown in the area as the rich muck soil was well suited for it. With my Great Uncle’s death and my dad finishing high school and going off to college, my grandfather made the decision to concentrate on the law firm and lease out the farm ground. Despite the decision to no longer actively farm, my dad continued to be drawn to the Glades and spent weekends hunting and fishing near the farm once he completed law school and moved back home.
My parents laugh that I learned to crawl in the woods at the “hunting camp”. I was a city kid by birth, but my dad stayed true to his roots and made sure that I knew how to get my hands dirty…Just like my dad, some of my favorite childhood memories are from weekends out at the farm. Hunting, fishing, chasing my mom around with worms that we dug out of the soil—my brother and I both loved those childhood times outside of the city limits.
When I look back at my roots, I can see that my life has come full circle. While the family farm ground known as Eltrose Farms continues to be leased out to others outside of our family, Matt and I actively own and manage our own crop farm named Eltrose Alfalfa in the heart of the Platte River Valley in Nebraska. In the corner of my office sits the branding iron that my great uncle and grandfather used to mark ownership on their cow herd.
It serves as a reminder that agriculture played a significant role in my ancestral history.
While Eltrose Farms serves as my dad’s legacy–one that I will now play a more active role in because of his death. 1800 miles north and west, Eltrose Alfalfa is a part of Matt’s and my dream–born of hard work, and the determination to bury our roots even deeper into the heart of agriculture.