Every Family and Farm Have a Story

Why Is the Story Important?

Remember sitting at a family gathering and hearing family members share stories from their childhood or grandpa sharing stories when you visited. Different times of the year brought different memories to mind. Some repeated often, even to the point of being annoying. Until the person was not there to share them anymore then the value of those stories soared.

At that point, the details were lost if not written down and questions came to mind that could no longer be answered. The details a necessary piece of the farm and family puzzle.

History, especially items talked about the least, played a crucial role in people’s actions and possibly the farm’s history because for farm families it’s all intertwined.

Understanding the history helps us address and work through the tough stuff as well as embrace the victories.

But I’m Not Family

Farmers have an incredible close tie to their farm. After all, the farm is where both family and farm have happened. Transitioning a farm outside of the family can feel a bit like betraying one’s family and the sweat equity everyone who came before them put into it. Therefore, even if you’re not family, it’s important for you to embrace the topic and learn all you are able to about the roots of the farm you want to take over.

You are the only one who can ensure the farmer and farm family that the history of the farm will not be lost at the signing of a sales agreement. It’s at this crossroad that you realize you must invest in the history of the farm as well as the land and buildings in order to have a successful farm transition.

An Impact to Work Through

The tough stuff is likely the things that had the largest unspoken impact on a farm.

A very traumatic death of a child during birth in days when counseling was not available. The only recognition flowers lovingly placed on the baby’s grave every Memorial Day. A small marker placed on the grave in later years when money was available or maybe when the farmers realized the need to publicly acknowledge the loss.

The couple lost one child; they could not bear losing another. Thus, when their only child, a son, shared an incredible job opportunity with a large farm he was told if he left the family farm he could never return. Realistically they would have welcomed him back with open arms but instead they gave a tough front, and that young man lived his life with an underlying regret and anger issue because of it.

Understanding the challenges previous generations faced create opportunities for empathy, healing and ensuring the hurts are laid to rest and negative cycles broken.

Celebrate the Positive Impact

Grandchildren loved the stories shared by others about their grandparents. The animals they purchased from them and stories of farm visits. A plethora of the people still in the ag industry today, remembering a positive start made possible by one family farm.

The positive stories give reason to celebrate and encourage the next generation of farm stewards to develop a mission not only for the farm but also a plan to positively impact people in a way that best fits the next generation.

Skipping family and farm stories leaves a missing piece in the transition puzzle.,

Picture of Darlene Livingston

Darlene Livingston

has served as the Executive Director of PA Farm Link for 13 years. Leading the organization’s farm succession education and facilitation programs, assisting with farmer and land databases, beginning farmer and farm stress work.

Darlene has been instrumental in bringing farm succession to the forefront in Pennsylvania. Through her leadership two International Farm Transition Network Coordinator trainings have been held in Pennsylvania along with continued education programs for ag professionals.

Born and raised on a diversified farm, Darlene has a lifetime of farm experience working with three generations on the farm.

If you'd like to learn more about PA Farm Link, the farm succession facilitation services or have questions about succession planning please call 717-705-2121 or email farmland@pafarmlink.org.

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