MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Most farms never reach the century mark, but the Dole farm west of Mattoon is pushing toward two centuries of continuous family ownership and management.
“1847 is when the Champions came here and bought the ground, and the Doles were north of here about four or five miles, and they were around 1852 so we’ve been here quite a few years,” said Marty Dole.
Dole, son Andy, daughter Katie and brother Jeff operate the grain farm, which Andy said has a task ahead.
“As we have mentioned, this will be our 174th crop year in Coles County,” said Andy Dole. “I think it is important to consider the longevity of the farm and the soil and take care of the environment while also producing enough to feed the world. It’s about finding that balance.”
When asked if that balance is sometimes hard to find, Dole said things have progressed over time. “I think it has gotten easier in recent history rather than decades ago. We’re not dragging moldboard plows across the ground all the time.”
And he wants that message to get out to the public.
“As we talk about how long farming has been going on, every year it seems like consumers get more distance from the producer.,” said Dole. “And to kind of bridge that gap, I have started my own series of YouTube videos here on the farm; where I kind of go through the everyday life of what we do; whether it’s planting, harvest and everything in between.”
So why does Dole do what he does?
“Farmers tend to get a very negative reputation from the world as a whole,” said Dole. “We are looked at a lot of times as people who take advantage of the environment around us, but I think it is completely the opposite of that. We are doing our best to take care of the land in a way that helps feed the world.”
Sister Katie is one of the keys in the farm operation.
“In the spring, I run the field cultivator with my Uncle Jess,” said Katie Dole Zimmer. “I help run seed. I do some mowing here and there. I pretty well mow all summer and I help them clean out grain bins whenever they need an extra hand. In the fall…my dad and I run the combine. My brother, Andy, typically is in the auger wagon. My Uncle Chris and Jess usually haul in the truck. I just like working with the family, and being a part of the many years of farming. It’s all I’ve every known. In the spring, it is time to plant and the fall, it is time to harvest.