Ownership and operation of a farm by members of the same family for one hundred years or more is a significant accomplishment. Each year, through their Century Farm Program, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in conjunction with Farm Bureau, honors Iowa farmers who have achieved that goal with the Century Farms Award.
Third-generation farmers Jerry and Lorrie Drake of Winterset received their award at the 2019 Iowa State Fair.
Jerry’s grandfather George W. Drake, was the first generation to own the farm, when he purchased the Winterset property in 1918. He farmed the land until 1960 when Jerry’s father, John E. Drake, took over the chores. Jerry and Lorrie, the third generation of the family, started their operation in 1988.
Growing corn, beans, alfalfa and taking care of livestock, Jerry learned farming from his granddad, and says his passion is planting and harvesting the crops. When planting each spring, he likes to see how straight he can make the rows and enjoys taking care of the soil and crops as they grow to maturity.
“Farming can be very challenging,” he commented. “It can require a lot of faith and prayer, especially during times of drought or damaging weather.”
“We would have a gorgeous field of green and then a storm would come along and flatten all the crops,” Lorrie explained.
During the lean years when farming was difficult, the couple would supplement their income by working off-site. Jerry worked at the Des Moines Water Works and Lorrie was a 4th grade teacher at the elementary school.
Farming for Jerry has always been a way of life and although Lorrie did not grow up on a farm, she has enjoyed her time in the country, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Since retiring in 2016, the couple continues to work on their Century Farm and hopes their children and grandchildren will continue the family tradition.