Our family: Linda and I (Jan) have four daughters: Jody (and Jake) Bernath live in Indiana but being farm kids, like to come home and help whenever possible. Sarah farms with us and does much of the computer work. Amy recently graduated from Defiance College, majoring in restoration ecology. Laura is attending the University of Toledo. All of the girls help on the farm whenever available. Linda also helps and does the bookkeeping.
When did you join Farm Bureau? I have been a Farm Bureau member as long as I can remember. My parents were members. It was just natural for me to join.
Tell us about your farm: We have a diverse operation: we raise field corn that mostly goes to POET (an ethanol plant) biorefining. The past couple of years our soybeans have all been Plenish, high oleic beans (this soybean variety produces oil with 0 trans fat, less saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat). We grow popcorn for ConAgra and fresh market green beans for Greenline Foods. We also raise wheat and swap acres with some vegetable growers who raise tomatoes and peppers.
What do you enjoy most about farming? I enjoy the independent lifestyle as well as the challenges farming provides.
Current conditions on the farm: The extremely dry weather this summer has hurt crops in the area. Right now we’re just waiting on the harvest to see just what yields will be. Our first green bean harvest was about a third of the usual yield, the second harvest about half. The next harvest looks to be a normal yield and the last should be good also, provided we don’t get an early frost. We’re putting up a new shop and I am looking forward to having a large, heated space to work on machinery this winter.
Community involvement: Our family is very involved in our church. I served on the board of directors for a local grain elevator, and am currently in my 12th year on the Henry County Soil and Water board.
Tell us something Henry County is known for: Napoleon may be best known for the Campbell Soup production facility located near the Maumee River. One of its water storage tanks is painted to look like a giant soup can. Henry County was part of the Great Black Swamp and the soil here is quite productive.
Biggest misconception (you’ve heard) about farming: Farmers only work two months of the year, one in the spring and the other in the fall.
What do you want your legacy to be? I hope to leave the land I farm in better condition than when I took over. Because I farm in the Maumee River/Lake Erie Watershed, I have worked hard to conserve the land and improve and protect water quality.
What is your biggest challenge on the farm? Meeting the high standards set for specialty crops.
A Leaders family favorite recipe
Microwave Caramel Corn
16 cups popped corn
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
Measure popcorn into a large microwave proof pan. A large plastic dish pan works well (heavier duty like Rubbermaid). In a 2 quart glass measuring cup, soften the butter then stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a good rolling boil in the microwave, about 3 minutes. Add baking soda and stir quickly. The mixture will foam up. Pour over the popcorn and gently stir to coat corn. Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Allow to cool then break into pieces.