THANK A FARMER: Young farmer carries on family legacy

·4 min read

Aug. 13—MARYSVILLE — As a young farmer, Blake Burgin is familiar with the challenges of the business, but he "wouldn't trade it for anything."

He runs a 300-acre farm in Marysville with his father, Doug Burgin. He grows corn and soybeans, as well as alfalfa and orchard grass for hay. The family also raises about 65 to 70 cattle.

Blake, 29, was the 2022 recipient of the Young/Beginner Farmer award from the Clark County Farmers Appreciation event. He is also continuing a longtime legacy of farming from both sides of his family. The Marysville farm belonged to his great-grandparents and grandparents on his mother's side of the family, and it has carried on through the generations.

Farming is truly a family operation for Blake's family. He grew up farming, and his parents continue to work on the farm. Blake's wife, Hannah, also helps out with the farm outside her full-time human resources job.

Blake and his wife recently remodeled the original farmhouse on the property, which was built in the 1890s, and they are raising their 15-month-old son on the farm.

They live next door to Blake's parents — when they are not working on the farm, his mother, Ellen, works as a teacher in New Washington, and his father, Doug, works as a school bus driver.

In addition to working on his farm, Blake also helps out on his uncle's farm, located just down the road.

Doug, a lifelong farmer who was raised on a dairy farm in the New Washington area, said he is proud of his son for taking over the Marysville farm.

"He's just a good kid," he said. "He understands it. It's rough, and he knows that."

When he was a kid, Blake loved playing with toy tractors, and his interest eventually evolved into collecting antique tractors — so far, he has collected more than 30. His favorite is a 1967 Farmall tractor, which he uses on a regular basis on the farm.

"My grandpa always had a bunch of old ones, and I don't really like the newer ones — I'd rather mess around with the old ones," Blake said.

He has taken the antique tractors to shows and the Clark County 4-H Fair, and in the future, he and his cousin hope to get into the business of buying and reselling farming equipment.

Hay is a strong business for the farm, and Blake is seeing more demand from hobby farms who raise animals such as horses or goats.

"It's a really good income, and in the summertime when you're waiting on the crops, because you're crops aren't until fall — it's nice to have a little extra income coming in," he said. "Then during the winter, you're always selling hay."

Weather is one of the most stressful aspects of farming. For example, it has been more difficult to get a long stretch of dry weather to cut the alfalfa for hay, Blake said.

"In the end, we're relying on Mother Nature to give us rain and the right weather conditions and everything, so it's a big gamble," he said.

Rising costs of fuel and equipment are some other challenges Blake has encountered as a farmer. He and his father are also concerned about the future of farming in Southern Indiana.

As more developments move into the area, Doug said there is need to maintain farmland.

"We still need farmers in this country to have food and stuff, and I think a lot of people don't understand that," he said. "We do need the farmers, and we need our ground, and the ground needs to quit disappearing into housing. Everyone needs a place to live, don't get me wrong, but we're losing a lot of good farm ground. That's one of my biggest fears — that one of these days there's not going to be enough ground to feed the people of this country."

It's not an easy industry to get into, so Blake is thankful to be part of a family-owned farm.

"It helped me a lot to have it already in the family," he said. "I mean, if you didn't have any land and you were setting out to buy some, there's a lot of money to get into it. There's the cost of the equipment, there's the cost of fertilizer and the seed — there's a lot of get started on it."

Blake wants to keep the farm in the family, and he hopes to someday pass the farming operation to his own son.

"Family farms are disappearing really quickly with the development and everything," he said. "I want to keep to where my son, he can have it, and hopefully he can keep it on if he has some kids of his own one day. Hopefully it will still be here for them."