Local roots go deep at century farms

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Ian Gronau | August 26, 2014

ELKHORN -- To Greg Walbrandt, the fact that his family's farm on Potter Road near Elkhorn has been farmed solely by a member of the Walbrandt family since 1869 is a point of pride. The land originally was worked by William Walbrandt in the late 1800s before it was passed down to his son, Glen, who passed it to his son, Virgil, who then passed it to Greg and his brother, Joe. Greg Walbrandt has since spent his whole life working on the 153-acre farm, doing everything from raising cattle to planting and harvesting corn and soybeans.

Much has changed in the years since his ancestor worked the land, so much that if William Walbrandt walked on to the farm today, he'd find it hard to recognize it.

“If he came to the farm today a lot of things would surprise him,” Walbrandt said. “Farmers have constant change all the time. You are always changing to try to do what you do better. Even my dad who passed away only 14 years ago would be surprised by how we do things now. They'd just be in awe by the equipment; it's so sophisticated now. They were doing everything by horses back in the 1800s.”

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Taking a look back at our agricultural heritage and recognizing present farm life are just two reasons that the Walworth County Fair honors local century farms every year. In order to qualify, farmers must have family ownership of a given local farm for at least 100 years.

Four families this year meet and exceed that 100-year mark and are being recognized at a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1, on the fair's Park Stage. The honorees are the Walbrandt, Gifford, Erickson and Murdock families.

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