Following a Family Tradition, Building a Farming Future

09-01-2015 in Green Farmstead Partner

Matt Raasch has been raising hogs since the day he was born. Following a family tradition, Raasch’s grandfather gifted and raised a piglet on behalf of his grandson in celebration of Matt’s birth. The rest, is history.

Raasch is a descendant of five generations of farmers on his father’s side and four generations on his mother’s side. His family has a rich legacy of raising livestock in Sac County.

From an early age, Raasch was actively involved on his family’s farm. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1996, Raasch returned to his roots near Odebolt, Iowa to begin farming full time alongside his father.

In 2000, Raasch branched off from his father’s farm and moved down the road to what is now his home farm site. As part of his transition into expanding his own farming endeavors, Raasch decided to build a hog barn in 2013.

In the process of deciding where to site the barn and handling neighbor relations, Raasch contacted the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.

“The Coalition made several trips out to the farm to discuss things with us. They were really knowledgeable about DNR rules and regulations and what may or may not be a good site.  It just made the process really easy and took the burden off of my shoulders.”

Construction of the barn took about two months. During that time, Raasch decided to incorporate trees on the north side of the barn in an effort to provide visual screening and to mitigate odor.  A total of 167 hybrid willows were planted in 8 ’x 8’ spacing with help from Kevin Kelly of Kelly Tree Farm.

Following construction, an open house was held at the Raasch farm in November of 2013. To Raasch, opening up his farm to the community was well worth it.

“The biggest thing I learned through the entire process was people skills,” Raasch said. “Learning how to have effective conversations with the neighbors taught me a lot, and I carry on these skills today when working with my contractor.”

Two years later, Raasch continues to make improvements on his farm. He recently planted another windbreak on the west side of his property. An additional 140 trees were planted including a row of Norwegian spruce, a row of arborvitae, a row of hybrid willows and a row of arrowwood shrubs.

“My family decided to grow our farm so that our children can carry on our family’s legacy,” said Raasch. “We understand that for this legacy to continue we must be conscious of the environment and our neighbors.”

Like their father, Raasch’s two young sons have taken a strong interest in the family farm. They enjoy tagging along with Matt to help with chores and other daily tasks. For Raasch, the ultimate reward in investing in the barn and trees is sharing his family legacy and building future farming opportunities for his boys.

– Haley Banwart, CSIF Communications Intern

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