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June is national dairy month. It’s a great time to celebrate the hard working farmers across Wisconsin. 95% of the dairy farms throughout the state are family owned. That’s the case at Banner Ridge Farms in Platteville, where farming has actually shaped the lives of two families--the Shea and Roth families.
“My dad had bought a farm in 1973 as kind of an investment,” said John Shea. “When the renter left we decided to milk the cows. We needed a place to work and a place to stay after we got married in 1974. That’s when we started.”
Banner Ridge is unique since most family farms stay within an immediate family. But this became a blended family farm.
“It used to be just our family, me and my brothers, and now it’s four families, it’s me and my parents and TJ and Katie Roth and my kids and another brother,” said Jill Weiderholdt, John and Luann Shea’s daughter.
When the Roth family became partners in the farm, the family feeling just grew larger.
“I love working together and doing something with my family and to see the change, to see the progression, to work hard, to have it be fruitful to have it pay off,” said Katie Roth. “It is so important for people to know where their food is coming from because they need that faith. It’s that shared value of yes, I’m a farmer, I’m also a mom, I’m also a wife and I care about my community and when you get those shared values out there it really shines through because people want you to be relatable and as farmers that’s why we have to share our stories too.”
The common goal is to keep the farm sustainable for future generations.
“We want to be sustainable, we want to be here for my kids, when they’re big enough to decide if they want to farm or not,” Jill Weiderholdt said.
“There’s a lot of give and take and you’ve got to help get the next generation involved because it’s just so hard to get involved in agriculture today it’s just almost impossible,” said John Shae. “We just feel really fortunate that we’ve had family and TJ and Katie involved with us, too.”