Harvest Heritage: Peterson Family Farms

Local News

ELWIN, Ill. (WCIA) — Farms change over the years in what they produce, but some things just stay the same. 

Farm families feed us every day, overcoming challenges,  and that includes Earl and Jeff Peterson who farm at Elwin, just south of Decatur.

“My great grandfather started across the road here in 1891. He bought 80 acres of that farm across the road,” says Earl Peterson. “That’s when it all started.”

Like many farms, livestock added cash flow.

“We had hogs for several years,” he says. “We ran 50-60 sows, sell off a thousand head a year. They made money, most years. It was a good operation to have.”

Jeff Peterson is now the primary farm operator.

“Dad and his brother retired two years ago,” he says. “And I have my son in law and I have 3 other guys that help full time. And my wife, she helps quite a bit too.

“We don’t have any livestock anymore, and we do quite a bit of custom farming. We do some work like that. One farm we picked up in 1996 is an organic farm, we custom farm.”

Jeff Peterson says he biggest challenge is “controlling weeds.”

“Rainfall is really important,” he says. “We get some really good bean yields if the rains help us out and if we got a good start with the beans and the corn, and especially the beans we get a good crop.”

The management transition was easy.

“We usually talk things over before we do anything,” says Earl Peterson. “We have for years. So there really wasn’t much more I could tell him. We knew where each other stood and we went from there. You can’t be pessimistic all the time.  You have to be optimistic or you are not going to make it.”

“I enjoy it, I think its rewarding,” says Jeff Peterson. “At this point in my life I am too old to do anything else.”

“You feel like you are doing something for the good of the country,” Earl Peterson. “You produce a lot of food and you can feed I don’t know how many hundreds of people with what we produce on what we farm and to me that is very gratifying.  You feel like you have accomplished something.”

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