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Farm Family of the Week | The Moores of Rural Watseka | Agriculture

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From left, Diann and Jim Moore and their son Wes at the Urbana Farmer’s Market, where they’ve had a stall for 34 years.

Few residents have people they consider ‘their farmer’. But for some in this area, the Moores of rural Watseka fit that bill. That’s who they buy from at the Urbana Farmer’s Market. It’s who they go to as part of their buyer group, where everyone knows their name. It’s one of the appealing aspects of their farming operation to Diann Moore, who answers questions from our last farm family of the week.

How long has your family been farming?

My husband, Jim, and I started our chapter of farming what people now call Moore Family Farm in 1985, the year we got married and bought his family farm from his grandmother. Jim has lived and grown up working on this farm all his life. Within a few years, we had two sons. From an early age, our two sons – Wes and Aaron – grew up helping out on the farm doing the daily chores. Wes stayed on the farm and worked with us. Aaron left our family farm and works for another large farm near Sainte-Anne.

Where is your farm?

Our farm is located near Watseka. This farm has been in Jim’s family for over 100 years. We also farm near Sadorus and Ivesdale on Diann’s family owned farm.

What does your operation consist of?

The Champaign County farm is grain – corn, soybeans and wheat. Watseka Farm is very diverse – pasture and hay, beef, pork and lamb (from birth to finish), vegetables, flowers, chickens for meat and eggs. Meat, eggs and produce are grown for direct marketing at farmers’ markets and/or farm-to-family buying groups throughout the year.

How many family members does the operation support?

The farms currently support Jim and myself as well as Wes and his wife, Ashley, and their three children (ages 1, 4, and 9). Jim, Wes and I take care of the day to day responsibilities of the farm operation. Ashley often steps in to help when the workload on the farm requires an extra set of hands or a driver for a tractor.

Are there family members on the farm who also work at other jobs?

Over the years we have all worked part time or full time jobs and often day jobs here and there for others in our community to help pay the bills to support our two families and running the farm.

What makes farming such a beautiful vocation?

For our family members, it’s more of a vocation. Few people have the opportunity to keep a family farm in the family. But we have been fortunate to now be able to cultivate land owned and operated by Jim’s family and mine.

Personally, for me, producing the food that we sell at the market or to a customer in a buying group, it’s the long-standing personal relationships that I have with many that are a blessing. People call us by our first name. We are their farmer. They realize how important their buying power is to help keep a small family farm like ours in business.

How have you seen agriculture evolve over the years?

As vendors at the Urbana Farmer’s Market for 34 years, we have seen many changes, including people’s wants and tastes each year, often based on current new food trends, current food fads and what is recent on social networks.

The world events of recent years have added new challenges. When food was not available in grocery stores due to the closure of large meat processing facilities, our small farm remained operational and able to supply customers.

The main change we have experienced is from the “weird” neighborhood farm in the area (in the late 1980s) when we returned to farming as our grandparents did – rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, rotating cover crops with vegetables, seeding different pastures to graze livestock and attending several farmers markets. All the while, we were learning by trial and error. There was little information or direct marketing.

Now, 30 to 35 years later, the neighbors who often laughed at us and other farms in the Midwest are making the same changes. There is now significant support from academia and the mainstream agricultural media who are now promoting this type of farming.

Your equipment: red (Case IH), green (John Deere) or other?

For the cereal side of the farm, mainly green. The livestock and vegetable side of the operation is orange (Kubota) and old little red Farmall tractors and little old vegetable tillage equipment.

If you could change one thing about farming, what would it be?

The answer to this question is totally out of hand, but it would be perfect weather – the right amount of rain when needed during the growing season and dry weather for harvest, and beautiful weather every Saturday morning from May to October. for each farmers market.

What is the best time of year to be on the farm?

As a grandmother, I love watching the grandchildren come to the farm and collect flowers to give to mom. The excitement in their eyes when they watch a baby lamb or calf being born, or hold a baby chicken in their hand. It’s also the fun we have of harvesting squash and pumpkins in the fall, finding all the different shapes, colors and textures; ask the grandchildren to help collect the eggs. All farm activities that create memories for a lifetime.


How have rising inputs and rising fuel prices affected your farm?

These changes have been very hard on us. We had to decide, do we raise the prices to cover all the increased expenses and earn a living or do we keep our prices lower and live very frugally ourselves and hope our customers appreciate that we kept the cost of their food about the same as in the past, which is what we did. We hope for the continued support of our loyal customers to help overcome this current situation together.

Do you find that because of higher costs, farmers have to grow more and more acres to make ends meet?

Impossible to answer this question for others. But as a farm family, we adapt and adjust to make farming as efficient as possible. As a family, we are tightening our own household financial expenses and praying that we can hold things together for another year.

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