Viewers can tune-in to Iowa Public Television March 3 at 7 p.m. to see the new documentary "Iowa's Century Farms." It will be repeated March 8 at 11:30 a.m. The program examines the resilience of Iowa's century farm families and the ways in which they've been able to continue their agricultural traditions for generations to come.
"There is a sense of pride in farming land that has been in a family for generation after generation, 100 years or more in some very special cases," says Laurel Bower Burgmaier, producer of the new documentary. "The legacies of these century farm families connect with the mission of Iowa Public Television to tell the stories of Iowa's history and inspire future generations."
Iowa Master Farmers are interviewed in this documentary
Wallaces Farmer magazine had a small but important role in this effort, providing a list of Iowa Master Farmers as potential people to be interviewed for the documentary about Century Farms in Iowa. Wallaces Farmer has sponsored the annual Iowa Master Farmer Awards since Henry A. Wallace started the program in 1926.
It was interesting meeting with Laurel the producer, answering her questions, talking to her about Iowa's Century Farm Program and the Iowa Master Farmer program, and learning a little bit about how a TV documentary is put together—all the weeks and weeks of research and work that go into it.
One of the farm families interviewed in this documentary is Jim and Ann Sage, Master Farmers from Black Hawk County, Class of 1980. Jim notes: "I take pride that two of our sons are the 10th succeeding generation with the Sage family name to have farmed in America since 1653. It appears that our grandchildren will carry on that tradition."
The documentary profiles farm families from Rippey, Waterloo, Manning, Hudson, Washington and Minburn who share a profound passion for farming the land, and have a strong conviction to keep it in the family for future generations.
A fifth generation family farm near Rippey in west central Iowa
Roy and Phyllis Bardole are also interviewed in the IPTV documentary. They are Iowa Master Farmers, Class of 2014. They own and operate a Century Farm near Rippey in Greene County in west central Iowa. They farm with their two sons and their families.
A year ago I was visiting Roy in his farm office on a cold, cold February day. He had a box and a contraption sitting on it in the middle of the room, he'd just unpacked it. It was a drone. He and his sons bought it to learn how to use it—to scout their crops someday when the government makes it legal to fly a drone over your fields for commercial purposes. Roy had just finished showing me his collection of "old and older" farming photos on the wall, some of them photos of Roy and his dad years ago and how they used to farm when Roy was young.
"Respect history, embrace change," thoughtful words I won't forget
I drove home thinking, these Century Farms had to constantly adopt new ways of doing things over the years. The ones that are actively farming today are still doing that, still trying new technology, new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.
"Respect history, embrace change," are the thoughtful words Roy left me with that day. That's his motto. I used it for the headline on the Master Farmer story I wrote about Roy and Phyllis a year ago, in March 2014 Wallaces Farmer.
The roots are deep and the stories important on Century Farms
"The generational farms, the land itself, there are few things outside of my family and faith, I would say there's nothing outside of those two things that are any more important than the generational farms," says Roy Bardole.
Century farms don't just happen. It takes commitment, sacrifice, and a keen belief that carrying on the tradition matters. The roots are deep - the stories important. For more information, visit Iptv.org.
Programming support for "Iowa's Century Farms" is provided by: Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere and Friends of Iowa Public Television.
"Iowa's Century Farms" will air Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 8 at 11:35 a.m. on statewide Iowa Public Television.
About IPTV: Iowa Public Television is Iowa's statewide public broadcasting network. IPTV provides quality, noncommercial programming to make a difference in the lives of Iowans. As one of the last locally controlled media enterprises in the state, IPTV is committed to telling Iowa's stories like no one else can. Our mission to educate, inform, enrich, and inspire Iowans enables IPTV to present an unequaled array of programs of lasting value to Iowans regardless of where they live or what they can afford. More than 2 million viewers a month turn to IPTV for programming that reflects a range of interests for Iowans in all demographic categories. Iowa Public Television offers three programming channels statewide: IPTV, IPTV LEARNS and IPTV WORLD. Iowa Public Television stations include: Channel 11, Des Moines; Channel 12, Iowa City; Channel 21, Fort Dodge; Channel 24, Mason City; Channel 27, Hawarden; Channel 32, Waterloo; Channel 32, Council Bluffs; Channel 36, Davenport; Channel 36, Red Oak. Information on programming channels, reception and more can be found at Iptv.org.