Any highway, interstate, street, or gravel road in Iowa, USA passes by hundreds of family owned farms that support the world with food, jobs, and innovative farming technology. In the late summer, fields of corn grew through the rich Iowan top soil to gleam gold against pink and blue skies which earns Iowa’s catch phrase; “Is this Iowa? No, it’s heaven.” The term farming communities defines the culture and the core of Iowa. As an Iowan, I’m proud of the agriculture heritage that has shaped my heritage, my family, and my economy. Agriculture is our heritage. Towns and Cities sprout farmers markets, sweet corn stands, fresh tomato and fresh strawberry fields for everyone to indulge on the fruits of the land.
I interviewed Willis Rhines and Jaclyn Sampson whose family farms have been around for over a 100 years and have a rich history and culture surrounding them. I asked Willis to talk about his family’s story and what it means to him.
“As far as my life and our community…. Well, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’m definitely proud to have been raised on a farm and to have learned all the tough lessons about life and stuff from it. Our community is still very strongly dependent on farming. The largest most successful businesses in Edgewood are feed mills and a locker. All who’s main ‘export’ if you will, stems from a healthy farming community.”
Iowa’s topsoil is unlike anything in the world; a fleeting treasure to farmers who use its powerful elements. The soil is eroding away each year from wind and water, but I think this just makes the heritage that’s grown from the rich Iowan soil, taste sweeter. The soil is the glue that’s been binding healthy farming communities. It’s also what set’s Iowa apart from the rest of the world. Jaclyn’s heritage is a great example of how Iowan farming connects to the world.
“Just like every generation before me in my family, I grew up on a farm. The land we still own today has been owned by six generations of my family leading all the way back to Germany. Our barn that is still standing and in use today was built around 1870 by Christopher Sampson and Henry Sampson (his son) in Delaware County Colony township which is now Colesburg, Iowa. Christopher Sampson was a German immigrant born in Hamburg, Germany, and would be my 5x great grandfather (I am the 7th generation).”
The farming heritage runs thick through the veins of Iowans. It stays strong with efforts to preserve the integrity of the infamous top soil, rich tradition, and even the buildings that started the culture in the first place. It’s history continues to shape our world, our food, and our economy, even in the present times. Cheers to the farming communities that keep this tradition strong.