The New Face of Farming
Times change, and so do farms. In the information age, GPS and the Internet are keeping Delaware’s family operations on the cutting edge. Some good ol’ fashioned ice cream doesn’t hurt.
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Like their parents, many of today’s farmers would like their children to return to the family business, but they also want to see them find their own paths. Linton’s eldest daughter is 23 with a master’s degree in finance. Linton treads lightly on the subject of her joining the family business.
“I talk carefully about it because I don’t want her to feel pressured in the least,” Linton says. “I tell her that it’s a choice if you want to do it rather than an obligation.”
Hastings has a 5-year-old son. “I’m not going to force him,” he says. “If he wants to come back, we’ll have a place for him. Right now he says he’s going to work at Target. It’s his favorite store.”
Fennemore recalls his mother’s strong work ethic. “The amazing part is that she was at every baseball game,” he says. “She always made time.” He fully appreciates that commitment now, and he sees that in the next generation of Fifers.
“I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned about a family business,” he says. “It’s because it is your own. To a degree, you take so much pride and stock in it that you can’t get away from it—which is good and bad. With a family business, it doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday or Sunday or Christmas. You’re always thinking, What can I do better? What can I do to improve? What am I forgetting? It can wear on you, but it’s a challenge, and I enjoy it.”