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Old school

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:09am

You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy. That saying certainly holds true for Michael Fritch.

When he was a boy, his father worked on his maternal grandparents' farm between Mitchellville and Prairie City, Iowa. When Michael was in fifth grade, his family left the farm and moved to nearby Des Moines, where his father went to work as a commodities broker.

Despite growing up in an urban setting, Michael's desire to farm never wavered. "I always helped Grandpa and rode with him as a kid. I started driving tractors and kept working with him on summers and breaks," he says.

Michael attended Roosevelt High School in Des Moines (where he knows of only one other graduate who has gone into agriculture), then went on to earn an agronomy degree from Iowa State University.

After graduation, he spent a year and a half working as an agronomist for Central Counties Co-op in Traer, Iowa, and was able to move back to the family farm. By this time, his parents, Lonne and Marcia Fritch, had moved back as well, after grandparents Don and Lorna Stevenson decided to move closer to town.

You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy. That saying certainly holds true for Michael Fritch.

Now, Michael and his wife, Kristi, who are expecting their first child in January, live just across the yard from his parents. While this may seem awkward to some young wives, Kristi couldn't be happier with the arrangement. "I love it here," she says. The baby will be the seventh generation to live on the family farm.

"I'm interested in growing the farm operation to around 1,200 acres eventually," Michael says. "The problem is, ground is hard to get sometimes." He was able to add some acres on his own this summer but is looking for opportunities to expand all the time.

Lonne says one of the most important skills for producers can also be the most intimidating. "To be successful in this business, you've got to do a superior job on the production side, but you have to match that same level on the marketing side," he says.

With Michael's agronomy education, his father's marketing expertise, his grandfather's years of experience, and his future brother-in-law's knowledge of equipment, he says, "I think we've got a pretty solid base."

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