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Plan paves the way

Agriculture.com Staff 09/01/2006 @ 7:55am

Sitting at the kitchen table in the brick farm home near Oldenburg, Indiana, Jean Leising pauses to reflect on the last 30 years of her life. "I don't know how I could be so lucky," she says.

It didn't look that way in 1980, when her husband, David Leising, 33, was killed in a farm accident. The couple had three children: Jill, 7, Jennifer, 4, and Jeff, 1. A few months later, her baby died shortly after birth.

"I was determined to keep the farm going," she says. "I hoped that someday one of our kids would be interested in it."

That hope was realized in 1999 when daughter Jill and her husband, Jeff Koch, became the fifth generation to farm the land and raise livestock here.

Jean, with the help of two employees, had continued to raise hogs and added rented cropland to the 320-acre farm. In 1991, she leased the hog buildings. When the lease wasn't renewed in 1998, she called Jeff to ask if he would consider this an opportunity.

At the time, he was managing a 1,200-head sow unit about a half hour away in Greensburg. Jill had left her job as a stockbroker in Indianapolis to open a travel agency in Batesville, a few miles from the farm.

Sitting at the kitchen table in the brick farm home near Oldenburg, Indiana, Jean Leising pauses to reflect on the last 30 years of her life. "I don't know how I could be so lucky," she says.

Jeff and Jill had met through 4-H about a decade earlier. They dated in high school and while attending Purdue University. Jeff graduated in 1993 with an ag economics degree. They were married when Jill graduated in 1995.

Jill feels that her experience as a stockbroker helped lead her back home to a more positive profession. "People never seemed happy in that job," she says. Her agency, Adventures in Travel, celebrates 10 years in 2007.

Jeff was elected to the Franklin County council four years ago. He's in his second year as vice president. "Both the president and I are farmers," he says. "Many of the decisions we make have an impact on agriculture. It's important to be involved."

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