Legacy farms: Family best part of operating Century Farm

Apr 25, 2024

It’s springtime on the Gibson Farm, and Jeff Gibson was reflecting on the planting progress so far. Spring has been bringing hope for the year ahead for more than a century for his family.

Gibson farms with family in Buchanan County, Missouri, and they have two Century Farms as part of their diversified operation. Gibson lives on one of the farms, bought by his great-grandfather in 1919.

“He bought it because it was the closest farm he could get to Gower because it had a high school and he wanted his kids to have an education,” he says.

Gibson and his wife, Elizabeth, live on the farm in a house built in the 1800s. Gibson farms with his dad, Jim, who lives on the family’s other Century Farm, bought by Gibson’s great-grandfather Gray in 1900.

Gibson says his family farming history in the area goes back even farther, when the Gibsons started homestead farming in Buchanan County in 1840.

Today, they grow corn, soybeans and wheat, and also have a black Angus cow-calf cattle operation.

“We keep all of our steers and we finish them on the farm and sell them direct-to-consumer,” Gibson says.

He says his wife runs that business, the 1840 Cattle Company, named after the family’s farming heritage, which sold 22,000 pounds of beef in its first year.

“I was quite proud of her for that,” Gibson says.

He is the sixth generation in his family to farm in the area, and his kids would be the seventh generation.

Gibson says he is grateful for the work of the previous generations to give him the opportunity to farm, including his dad helping him get started.

“He’s really opened the door and the opportunity for me,” Gibson says. “He let me in, and that’s what his dad did for him.”

In addition to the gratitude, Gibson says running a Century Farm also brings a sense of responsibility to keep it going and keep it in the family.

“It comes with pressure,” he says.

But it also comes with joy and perspective. He remembers a conversation with his dad as they sat by a hill on their farm.

“Dad and I will sit and talk, ‘This is the 104th crop that we’ve planted on this hill,’” Gibson says.

He also remembers stories from his grandfather about the “Lawn field” on the farm, called that because long ago a man named Lawn plowed it with a one-bottom plow.

Gibson says the incredible advancements in farm technology help tell the story of more than a century of farming.

“To go from working with horses to having tractors and sprayers that drive themselves,” he says.

Gibson says he enjoys the freedom of farming, making his own decisions and the gradual process of growing a crop.

“I enjoy watching it go from seed to grain and everything in between,” he says.

Of course, farming can be challenging and Gibson says the area has been dry the last two years, and is dry again this spring, plus prices have dropped.

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