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Dave and Amy Staples of rural Kensington, this year's Farm Family of the Year, are pictured with their four children, (left to right), Dawson, 17; Addison, 10; Ryder, 13; and Gage, 15. (Contributed)

Douglas farm family of the year 'truly a family affair'

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Minn. — Farming has been in the family for Dave and Amy Staples all their lives. They were both raised on farms in Douglas County.

Dave grew up on the farm his father, Richard, bought in 1977. Amy grew up in Millerville on a farm that had been passed down from generation to generation. Her great-grandfather passed it down to her grandfather and then he passed it down to her father.

It was only natural for the two of them to become a farm family, too, raising four children near Kensington. Dave now farms 3,500 acres of corn and soybeans from Starbuck to Millerville with his dad and his two brothers. Amy helps out when she is not teaching special education at Discovery Middle School.

And this year, Dave and Amy were named Douglas County's Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

They were recognized at a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 3, at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls and will also be recognized at the upcoming Douglas County Fair, which is set for Aug. 17-20.

"We were surprised and humbled because we know so many wonderful, hard working and successful farm families," Amy said. "Also, we know we would not have received this honor without our families who have worked tirelessly alongside of us. It is truly a family affair."

There are many things about farming that Dave loves, but one of the best is the flexibility and being his own boss. If his children have something going on, whether it's a sporting event or school event, he can attend and he loves that he is able to do that. Raising four children, Dawson, 17; Gage, 15; Ryder, 13; and Addison, 10, keeps them pretty busy.

Dave also loves being out in the field in his tractor. As much as he loves working and being with his family, sometimes, the solitude of being in the tractor is all he needs.

When asked what has changed the most about crop farming, Dave said it was mostly the integration of technology, but also the size of the machinery.

"Farmers nowadays kind of have to be techies," he said, adding that tractors have gotten so much bigger and almost all of them come equipped with computers and some are even automated.

One of the biggest advancements he's seen in farming is the zoning of fields. He said information is fed into a computer and then a program determines how much fertilizer to use in each zone. Really good soil in one zone would receive less fertilizer than areas where the soil isn't as good.

"It helps us get the most bang for our buck," Dave said.

For those who are interested in farming, Dave shared some advice. He said that you have to have a passion for it and because farming can be so expensive, he said to start with another family member.

The Staples hope that someday their children will take over the farm. The boys help out when they are not busy with sports and school, they said.

"It's been such a gift from our fathers," Amy said. "We hope to pass it down and keep the tradition going. There is a lot of pride that comes with farming. We are thankful and blessed to be a part of it."

Dave said that farming is what keeps small communities going and that people need to embrace their farmers and support them.

"We probably wouldn't have the small towns we do if it weren't for the farmers," he said. "We need to support them as much as they need to support us."

Amy said that people need to remember that farmers do take care of the land; they have pride in their land.

"We have to use it for the rest of our lives," she said.

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